Robert Greene’s 6 Laws Of Power Most Relevant To Entrepreneurs

Of the 48 in all, these 6 matter most

It’s one thing to write a best-seller on your first try. But what about writing a book so thorough and controversial it has to be banned from prisons as a safety precaution?

With over 1.2 million copies sold in the U.S. since its first publication in 1998, Robert Greene’s debut book The 48 Laws Of Power has had a divisive response from day one. Sometimes referred to as “the sociopath’s bible”, its success spawned a series of listicle-on-steroids sequels, including The Art Of Seduction, The Laws Of Human Nature, and The 33 Strategies Of War (Another publication banned in some prisons).

 

In a 2012 interview with The Guardian, Greene stated his motivation for The 48 Laws Of Power was “to demystify the dirty tricks of the executives he encountered during a dispiriting period as a Hollywood screenwriter.”

Clearly, the book’s content struck a chord:

    • Kanye West and Jay-Z have referenced the work in song lyrics;
    • Calvin Harris has law #28 — “Enter with boldness” — tattooed on his arm; and
    • An adaptation of the book into a series with Drake as executive producer was greenlit for Quibi earlier this year.

Quibi later went up in flames. But it’s probably safe to say if Drake wants to produce your book, you’re onto something. The bestseller became so prevalent in rap circles in the mid-2000’s that The New Yorker coined Greene “Hip hop’s Machiavelli”.

 

Chances are you don’t plan to usurp a dynasty anytime soon, so the more diabolical laws — such as law 14, which encourages you to “Pose as a friend, but work as a spy” — will be entertaining at best and toxic at worst.

 

As entrepreneurs, though, we must be privy to the dynamics of persuasion and influence. These 6 laws of power in particular are ones you’ll want to know like the back of your hand.

Related: Download the author’s free toolkit of 9 article templates right here.

Law 9: “Win Through Actions, Never Through Argument”

“I’ll let my racket do the talking.” — John McEnroe

 

Instead of endlessly pitching yourself, your product, or results you’ve never actually accomplished yourself… walk your talk instead.

 

To land your message more deeply with an audience, explore ways to demonstrate and show your point rather than argue it.Our brains process visual information 90,000 times faster than text, and research from MIT found imagery registers in our minds after just 14 milliseconds.

 

The literary device version of this law is “Show, don’t tell”; it’s sometimes related to a Chekhov quote: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining. Show me the glint of light on broken glass.”

 

Takeaway: Never tell that which you can show instead.

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Law 10: “Infection: Avoid The Unhappy And Unlucky”

As the saying goes: “You are the average of the five people you surround yourself with the most.”

 

Unhappy, complaining-centric people are like entrepreneur kryptonite and will sink your spirit rapidly. This is especially important to discern if you spend most of your day around non-entrepreneurs. Perks like being your own boss or creating your own income feel like impossible pipe dreams for some 9-to-5-ers.

 

Occupy your mind with quality brain food from those who walk the talk. Nothing sidelines an aspiring entrepreneur faster than a peanut gallery of naysayers — distance yourself from misery and victim mentalities.

 

Takeaway: Take care of the company you keep.

Law 13: “Appeal To People’s Self-Interest, Never Their Mercy Or Gratitude”

As you develop content, a product, or an offer, always be asking yourself “Why would people care about this?”

    • Why make your own bone broth instead of buying it from a store?
    • Why set up an email list instead of dick around on Instagram?
    • Why care?

Outline for your consumers not only why they should care, but also what’s in it for them.

 

Your readers aren’t egomaniacs. It’s the human condition and we can’t help ourselves; we want to read that which can help us feel fulfilled or move our personal interests forward.

 

Add context around what people will get out of reading, watching, or listening to your content and you’ll find it much easier to hold someone’s attention.

 

Takeaway: Outline not only why readers should care, but also what’s in it for them.

Law 18: “Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself–Isolation Is Dangerous”

Here’s something no one tells you about entrepreneur life: It gets lonely real quick. It’s a loneliness that is simultaneously kind of shaming, because you theoretically have freedom, creative autonomy, and the ability to create whatever income you choose… so you should be happy and fulfilled all the time, right?

 

As you chug along with the grind, a trusted network will not only help you keep your sanity, but also provide a valuable sounding board. The mind is a dangerous place — don’t go there alone.

 

It’s rare — dare I say impossible — for an entrepreneur to get everything right on the very first try. Missteps are guaranteed, and having confidantes can help you get out of your head and back into action. Resilience is a virtue.

 

Takeaway: The mind is a dangerous place — don’t go there alone.

Law 23: “Concentrate Your Forces”

A lack of focus has killed off millions of brilliant business ideas over the years. Ensure that your efforts actually move you closer to your goals.

 

An arm of my business I’ve always been curious about––low-cost online courses––took off this year after years of stagnation and half-assery because I zeroed in on a 1–1–1 framework, a process I learned from business coach Rachel Rodgers:

    • One promotional platform (If you’re reading this, you’re on it right now)
    • One sales mechanism (Mine was previously sales calls, but is now moving into webinars)
    • One product or sequence of products that results in transformation

In switching to a 1–1–1 framework, I have fewer decisions to make and fewer excuses to choose from. My decisions actually move my business forward.

 

Also, as it turns out, I actually like funnels. I just hate most funnel marketers.

 

Takeaway: The more you clarify your focus, the less often distraction will derail your efforts.

Law 41: “Avoid Stepping Into A Great Man’s Shoes”

It’s good to study other content creators and entrepreneurs. But if you spend all your time attempting to mimic the success of other people, your North star will become more about trail following than trailblazing.

    • How can what you offer be better or more relevant?
    • How is working with you different or unique?
    • What problems does your market have that go on unsolved?

As Sally Hogshead says: “Different is better than better”.

 

Tons of people sell what I sell and write about what I write about. If I try to be just like them… it’s game over. When I’m myself, the rules can shift in my favor. Clarify how your approach is different or unique and you’ll have an easier time slicing through the online noise.

 

Takeaway: Follow trails to learn the ropes. Then go on to blaze your own.

Final Takeaways

Robert Greene’s The 48 Laws Of Power is not a light read. But its lessons from history give critical insights on influence and persuasion, which are imperative if you’re an aspiring entrepreneur. Dial in your power generators, make the necessary adjustments, and you’ll find yourself better positioned for success both now and in the future.

Thanks for reading. 🙏🏼

 

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Nick Wolny is a media and marketing strategist for entrepreneurs. Named a “40 Under 40” by the Houston Business Journal, he’s a contributor for Entrepreneur and Fast Company and a technology commentator for NBC and FOX with over 60 live TV appearances.