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Ep125 - Robert Greene

  • Broadcast in Education
Mixed Mental Arts

Mixed Mental Arts


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In 1532, an Italian diplomat and political theorist named Niccolo Machiavelli wrote a book on how best to most effectively acquire and keep power. It was called The Prince. Machiavelli argued that for a ruler “It is much safer to be feared than loved.” The idea that power is best achieved through fear, dishonesty and coercion rather than through empathy, honesty and cooperation has been argued about ever since. It’s why House of Cards is so popular. It’s also why every single one of Robert Greene’s books is a bestseller. In particular, his work have been particularly popular with two groups who deal with power acquisition at its most savage: hip hop stars and foreign policy analysts. As 50 Cent (a huge fan of Greene’s and his later collaborator on The 50th Law) noted, working as a crack dealer in South Queens could never have prepared him for the viciousness, manipulation and deception of the music industry. He describes Greene’s first book The 48 Laws of Power as his business school. Just as with Machiavelli, Greene’s work often attracts criticism from those who dislike the idea that fear, deception and coercion are effective tools for gaining power in modern life. As Greene has commented in the past, "These laws … people might say, 'Oh they're wicked', but they're practiced day in and day out by businesspeople. You're always trying to get rid of your competition and it can be pretty bloodthirsty, and that's just the reality.” In this episode, Robert Greene first discusses his previous books and why understanding the stratagems we use to gain power has made him a much more empathetic person before moving onto his latest book, Mastery. In Mastery, Robert Greene debunks the idea that greatness is born and through beautifully chosen examples demonstrates how some of the worlds greatest mentors living and dead reached the pinnacle of human achievement. As with all Greene’s books, the stories are exceptional and the writing beautiful. It’s a genuine treat to have him on