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.

SUR

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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.

SUR

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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’.

SUR

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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.

SUR

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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!

SUR

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48 Laws of Power: Law #14 Pose As a Friend, Work As a Spy

Law 14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy

  •      Learn to probe and find valuable information.
  •      Ask indirect questions.
  •      Every occasion is a chance to spy.

I’m not the biggest fan of Law 14 at the surface and here’s why. I don’t think one is clever when he asks questions that inevitably lead to an answer that reveals any information not intended for that individual. When people probe in this manner I purposely give them an off the wall but believable answer to see just how much the cogs in their minds churn. You can see their interest suddenly peak as they sense they got something juicy, at which point I shut down and ignore them and let their mind wonder. This is usually done by older people who think they are clever, and in my opinion their intelligence is revealed by the reaction they have to me saying something off the wall. One has the advantage of judging the spy because the spy often thinks he is the only one spying. The basic reasoning for this is that idea of probing reeks of the attitude that the person is a source and an intelligent individual can quickly recognize you think he is a source and simply misinform you.

To avoid this pitfall you need to genuinely understand the person you’re speaking to and not probe or pry but change the flow of conversation on a by topic basis. So rule 14 should basically be summarized as be attentive and go with the flow of conversation.

Allowing the speaker to become emotional helps you gauge his/her real motives, which is basically a small window(or sometimes large depending on how emotional the individual is) into their personality. With this information you follow through with topics that further stimulate their excitement. The more excited they are around you the more they will begin to like and even trust you, and as they do they will give you all the real information you want by simply being more or less receptive to your conversational suggestions to do so.

SUR

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48 Laws of Power: Law #13 When Asking For Help, appeal to People’s Self-Interest, Never to Their Mercy

Law 13: When asking for help, appeal to people’s self-interest, never to their mercy

  •      Do not remind people of past deeds.
  •      Find something that will benefit them and emphasize it out of proportion.

I wouldn’t say I disagree with this law, instead I have a different method.

As the God of Networking outlines in Never Eat Alone the key to getting what you want from your contacts is… GENEROSITY.

There is a law(forgot the name) that when you do something for people, when they return the favor they will be compelled to do something bigger. Think about it guys, if you go out with a new acquaintance and he pays for the drinks, the next time you go out it feels somewhat improper if you just paid for the drinks again, so you are compelled to do something more e.g. buy him/her a lunch.

So now you know you have to give in order to get.

With regards to gifts, it’s not about the money, it’s about the experience.

Sure expensive liquor and a fancy lunch are impressive, but top execs get that all the time. So in order to stand out, you gift them a good experience, a good feeling.

  • I remember in a podcast how Noah Kagan(entrepreneur) got together with one of senior people in Reddit. He found out the guy was an avid runner, got him a nice pair of running shoes and a year-long subscription to a runner’s magazine. The guy didn’t care about the shoes or the magazine, but the fact that Noah took the time to know him, impressed him. He got $20,000 worth of advertising space on Reddit for $1,000 in return!

SUR

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48 Laws Of Power: Law #12 Use Selective Honesty & Generosity to Disarm Your Victim

Law 12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim

  •      One sincere move will cover over a dozen dishonest ones.
  •      Honesty can bring down the guard of suspicious people.
  •      Open their shield with honesty, then deceive.

Selective generosity should be used as positive reinforcement for good behaviour. I like to keep a bit of chocolate on me. If a bitch goes and makes me my coffee I’ll offer her some of my chocolate and a bit of attention. If she is NOT annoying or I find her genuinely pleasant, I’ll give her attention/chocolate. Sounds hilarious but it’s amazing what your attention and a bit of cheap chocolate can do to alter other people’s behaviour, women particularly. It’s completely harmless and if anyone notices it and calls you on it you say “Well you don’t give people things who won’t do things for you, do you?” spinny spin spin, plausible deniability and a chuckle is all it takes.

Selective generosity can also be about making people feel indebted to you. The reverse law is law 40 – “despise the free lunch.” It basically plays on the Benjamin franklin effect (google it) so that people give you back more than you gave them at a later date. Like say when we first meet I insist on buying all your drinks. First impressions are strong. The next 3 times you meet me you’ll probably be happy to get at least half my drinks, which will total more than what I got you the first time. Why? Because your first impression of me was I was such a generous guy now it has clicked in your brain you don’t mind getting me stuff because “I’m the kinda guy who would do that for you.” And as long as I’m not obvious about trying to get free stuff out of you, you won’t care (unless you’re the kinda guy who is dirt poor, but then you’re gonna be frugal and rarely socialise anyway.)

As a businessman who is even mildly successful you should always budget some money for taking people out to lunch. Not just any people, not women, but people who you want contracts from. Always pay for their food, charm the fuck out of them, that’s how you get big deals and get paid. Fuck if you cant get a direct meal you may have to do that with their right hand just so you can go and do the whole thing all over again with them once the right hand “OK’s you.” Some businessmen are cautious like that and get people to do stuff like meet potential clients on their behalf because that person is unproven and they don’t wanna waste their own time vetting the guy. Take note tradesmen, you can’t take the building site demeanour into the damn restaurant.

Selective honesty is a deeper topic, I wanted to keep this brief so I’m not going to say much more other than lies can borrow credibility from half-truths, trickle truth is a form of selective honesty (admitting to something less contemptible that you did while omitting the worst that you did.)

Also, if someone is suspicious of you/low trust, being really forthcoming about loads of information that cannot be weaponised against you (it’s too impersonal, or you’ve just made it all up) is a good way to win trust.

SUR

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48 Laws Of Power: Law #11 Learn to Keep People Dependent On You

Law 11: Learn to keep people dependent on you

  •      To maintain independence you must be needed and wanted.
  •      The more you’re relied on, the more freedom you have.
  •      Make people depend on you for happiness.
  •      Never teach them enough so they can do without you.

I can see this rule applying beautifully in relationships.

If you are able to make your SO dependent on you and I’m not talking in terms of income or materials though that applies too, but also in emotional terms i.e. there are certain emotions that she feels only when she’s with you, then you are going to be truly independent.

Why do women so often refuse to dump their cheating boyfriends? Because only these dudes(at least in their eyes) can make them feel happy, like a woman etc.

Instead let your SO know that you need her more than she needs you and the timer on your relationship begins to tick.

SUR

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48 Laws Of Power: Law #10 Infection: Avoid the Unhappy & Unlucky

Law 10: Infection: Avoid the unhappy and the unlucky

  •      You’ll die from other’s misery – emotional states are as infectious as diseases.
  •      The unfortunate draw misfortune on themselves and will draw it on you.
  •      Associate with the happy and fortunate.

People are selfish by nature so it only make sense that they try to find someone to share the pain with. They believe it lightens the load rather than just creating more misery.

Anyone who ever got into trouble as a kid knows this feeling. Going to the principal’s office always felt better when you were going with your boys than facing that dickhead by yourself. People don’t really grow out of this mindset: they lack the emotional maturity to deal with their problems on their own

It goes back to the concept of creating value. Those who create attract other people into their sphere of influence. However, some of those they attract are parasites, even if they don’t realize it. They find value and they suck it out due to the fact that they are incapable of creating it on their own. You are a landlord, they are squatters.

“Misery loves company sums this one up.”

SUR

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