The 48 Laws of Power | Robert Greene

Summary of: The 48 Laws of Power
By: Robert Greene


Get ready to delve into the fascinating world of power dynamics and manipulation with this summary of ‘The 48 Laws of Power’ by Robert Greene. This book will equip you with an understanding of the essential strategies needed to gain, maintain, and use power effectively. You’ll learn how to benefit from the work of others while taking credit for their labor, gather essential information about those you want to control, and use unpredictability to keep competitors off balance. Throughout this summary, we’ll explore real-life examples and cautionary tales that can help you wield power intelligently and ethically.

Outshining the Boss

Trying too hard to impress your boss can backfire, as it could shift attention away from them and onto you, hurting their pride in the process. Moreover, acting superior to them could be seen as a threat to their position, and letting you go from the company becomes a viable option. These are exemplified in the story of King Louis XIV of France and Nicolas Fouquet, the king’s finance minister. Nevertheless, a better strategy is to make the person in charge look smarter than everyone else, including you, like what Galileo Galilei did to Cosimo II de’ Medici. By playing to your boss’s ego, you’ll have a better chance of gaining their favor.

Giving Credit Where Credit’s Due

Reaping Success Using Other People’s Work and the Importance of Claiming Credit

Have you ever stolen an idea or piece of work from another person? The truth is, using other people’s work to gain power is not uncommon. Just like how the Serbian scientist Nikola Tesla worked for the famous inventor Thomas Edison in creating the dynamo, often the work of others is used to get ahead, but with someone else taking all the credit. Edison claimed all credit for Tesla’s hard work and never gave Tesla the money he was promised. This practice still happens now with politicians using speechwriters and authors borrowing from other writers.

However, claiming credit is just as important as the invention itself. If you don’t take credit for your ideas, someone else will steal it and all the recognition that comes with it. In conclusion, it’s crucial to give credit where it’s due.

Winning Through Insider Knowledge

To gain power over others, it is essential to know about their plans, weaknesses and desires. Joseph Duveen, a famous art dealer, won over Andrew Mellon by gaining insider knowledge about him through bribery. Duveen acted as Mellon’s friend and used his knowledge to convince Mellon that they shared common interests, making Mellon Duveen’s best client. To replicate this success, one can hire informants or pose as a friend to gather insider information. However, being a spy oneself is the best option to ensure accuracy. It is challenging to make strangers share private information, but they are more likely to open up to people they consider friends, making posing as a companion an effective spying strategy.

Competitive Advantage through Unpredictability

In competitive scenarios, being unpredictable can be an advantage. It protects you from being understood by opponents and distracts them from the task at hand. Bobby Fischer’s victory against the Russian champion Boris Spassky in the 1972 chess match demonstrated the power of unpredictability. Fischer acted erratically and made Spassky unable to explain his behavior, confused, and distracted. As a result, Fischer won the game and was named world champion.

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