The 48 Laws of Power (New Version) Book Summary - The 48 Laws of Power (New Version) Book explained in key points
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The 48 Laws of Power (New Version) summary

Robert Greene

The secret methods to getting what you want

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    The 48 Laws of Power (New Version)
    Summary of 12 key ideas

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    Key idea 1 of 12

    Don’t outdo the master.

    Have you ever tried to impress your boss, only to have your efforts backfire on you? Well, you may have accidentally violated the first law of the game of power, which is, in Greene’s words, to never outshine the master

    The first law of power dictates that we should appear humble to our superiors, the people who have more power than we do.

    After all, powerful people want to be the center of attention; trying too hard to impress them can shift attention away from them and onto you, hurting their pride in the process.

    But what’s even worse is acting superior to them, a move that could lead your boss to think of you as a threat to their position. If this happens, they may – they probably will – attempt to remove you from your position entirely.

    Take the relationship between King Louis XIV of France and Nicolas Fouquet, the king’s finance minister. A smart and loyal advisor, Fouquet became indispensable, but this didn’t guarantee him the position of prime minister when the incumbent minister died. To gain the king’s favor, Fouquet threw a lavish party at his extravagantly furnished chateau to show the king how well-connected and influential he was. 

    The next day, Fouquet was arrested by order of the king. Louis XIV felt overshadowed, and he accused the minister of stealing to amass such extravagant wealth. The veracity of the accusation was beside the point. Fouquet lived out his remaining days in a prison cell. 

    So now you know: acts of extravagance and demonstrations of personal brilliance might not impress your boss. Quite the contrary. So how can you gain favor? Well, a better strategy is to always make the person in charge look better than everyone else, including yourself. 

    Take Galileo Galilei as an example. He desperately needed funding for his research and found an ingenious way to get it. He had spent years begging various patrons for funding, but would usually receive gifts instead of the necessary cash. So he decided to focus on one family – the Medicis – when, in 1610, he discovered the four moons of Jupiter.

    Shortly before, Cosimo II de’ Medici had established Jupiter as the symbol for the Medici dynasty. When Galileo discovered Jupiter’s four moons, he linked his discovery to the enthronement of Cosimo II de’ Medici, proclaiming it a cosmic event that heralded the family’s ascendancy. He said that the four moons represented Cosimo II and his three brothers, while Jupiter itself was Cosimo I, the father of the four Medici brothers. This tickled his patron’s ego, who interpreted the discovery as a heavenly omen confirming the family’s greatness. 

    By making the Medici family appear glorious and aligning their name with the cosmos, Galileo secured himself a salaried position as the official philosopher and mathematician of Cosimo II. He never had to beg for funding again.

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    What is The 48 Laws of Power (New Version) about?

    The 48 Laws of Power (1998) takes an irreverent look at the fundamental characteristics of power – how to understand it, defend against it, and use it to your advantage. This Blink offers compelling insights, backed by historical examples, into the dynamics of competition and control. 

    Who should read The 48 Laws of Power (New Version)?

    • Entrepreneurs looking to gain the upper hand in their market
    • Anybody who wants to acquire power – or protect themselves and others from it
    • People interested in the history of power dynamics

    About the Author

    Robert Greene is an American author, public speaker, and graduate of the University of California, Berkeley. The 48 Laws of Power is the first of five international best sellers penned by Greene about strategy, power, and success.

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