Author Robert Greene on the Utility of Weirdness, Fear, and Pain Inside Quest



on today's episode the godfather of power dynamics Robert Greene power begins from within if you're aware of who you are if you're aware of what you're good at what you're not good at you will be a person of power the point of self-awareness is to shut down that internal monologue that you have about yourself so that you can be more strategic the ability to understand what motivates what incentivizes the other person is the key to success in life words are used to deceive you to disguise what people are really thinking I have never put it together in my own mind that succinctly but you're absolutely right it's time to go inside quest with hose Tom bill you president and co-founder of the second fastest growing private company in America and now he's uncovering the universal principles of success I can tell you right now what principle number one is follow your passion inside quest starts right now back inside quest weird the gymnasium for the mind and if you're into personal power like I am today's guest is for you he is the godfather of power dynamics and skill acquisition please help me in welcoming the best-selling author of the 48 laws of power the 33 strategies of war and his newest book mastery Robert Greene really really appreciate it I get asked a lot about what books I read because for me and you actually a quote about this which unfortunately not having my fingertips but basically you should be reading more than people that are getting a professional education and if you carry that with you the rest of your life you'll be able to put yourself in a great position and I really believe that and I've learned a lot more since I got out of college than I did in college and so putting together a list for people of those essential books really forced me to clarify those because there's only like 15 books on it force me to clarify what I think are the most important books for somebody who's trying to go from what I call trapped in the matrix lost in a job that they don't love whatever and find their path to mastery so needless say your book is on that list it's utterly phenomenal just one of my books just one of the books on that it's all themed but this is why I want to get you on the show today so that we can talk about them although I have high hopes for your new book okay on my list yes what is your short on human nature guys you may not have heard it here first but he's working on a new book on human nature which I could not be more excited about if you've read all of his books you'll see that there's one theme this guy clearly has to have just a deep understanding of people and how they work so anyway with out for there do you books all center around power if you could just define power for us well there are many ways to do that but I like to look at it this way most of things that happen in life you have no control over you don't control your parents where you're born when you were born what era really what schools you go to anything like that and then beyond that just things happen to you and and so the way I look at it maybe 95 96 percent of what happens in life you have no control over it's just circumstances coming at you but you have a little margin of control and power is the ability to increase that tiny little margin to four or five six percent and how do you increase that margin of control over circumstances over people well the gist of it is controlling yourself self mastery power begins from within if you're aware of who you are if you're aware of what you're good at what you're not good at if you're able to see how emotions kind of govern your life if you can learn what your weaknesses are and how to control them you can't ever get complete control but awareness is almost enough slowly through this process of knowing who you are and understanding other people and how they operate so you don't make stupid mistakes in life you can increase that little tiny margin more and more and more and you will be a person of power so law number one in the 48 laws of power is called never outshine the master and almost every single person in the world has has violated that law and myself included basically how it works you're so eager to impress your boss or whomever your new job that you try so hard that you make him or her feel insecure like maybe you're younger and better than they are and because of that you're fired or something bad happens to you and you never know why understanding that law of power could save you the incredible misery that comes from being fired having any idea what happened to you so that kind of little bits of knowledge adding up with this awareness of who you are and how other people operate you're going to slowly gain a little bit more of that margin and be a person of power I've read that stat from you before that 95 96 percent of the world is out of our control it took my breath away I didn't want to believe it but as you start going through the things you really can't control and you see how Legion they are yeah um so if we embrace that and if we embrace that the most important thing that we can do is control ourselves I think the Vinci is a quote about that right yeah I think it's something to the effect that mastery big is basically self mastery is the gist of the quote right which I think is very powerful especially coming from somebody as accomplished as him so how what are the steps you talk a lot about self-awareness in mastery and I think very powerfully and it all culminates with you pointing out that the point of self-awareness is to get to shut down that internal monologue that you have about yourself so that you can focus on what that person is thinking and feeling about you so that you can be more strategic walk us through the example you give him the book about Benjamin Franklin and how he used that so profoundly yes it's a chapter in mastery on social intelligence which is basically the subject of my next book and and the idea is that were social animals and so you could be technically brilliant at what you do but if you're bad with people it doesn't mean anything you're going to completely neutralize your talent or your skill or anything that you've learned in life so Benjamin Franklin was someone who was extremely ambitious he was very young and very talented and very precocious he was a great writer at the age of 14 and 15 he's already publishing himself he he was just a man a genius but he was terrible with people he irritated his brother who he was working for and sort of deceived him about these letters he was writing to the newspaper and tricking him into silence do-good yes he was tricking his brother into publishing his own letters under a pseudonym because his brother thought he was too young to write for the newspaper and when the brother discovered this he was furious and had a you can confess it to his brother he confessed it thinking that his brother would be proud no the Benjamin had written these amazing letters supposedly written by an 80 year old woman this guy had had basically mimicked the voice of an older woman it was amazing and his brother instead was furious and so he didn't understand why he wouldn't have been proud of him he kept making these same stupid mistakes thinking that people would be impressed would like him because he was so smart and young and instead they were really offended by what he did the ability to understand what motivates what incentivizes the other person is like the key to success in life you know because if you know what it is that you're looking for what you Tom are looking for in this moment and I can give it to you I have incredible power over you right so Benjamin Franklin says I'm going to stop this pattern of being inside my head of thinking only of myself and my own ideas and what I think are my great dreams I'm going to shut that monologue off and I'm going to listen and I'm going to immerse myself in other people and figure them out he was a great tinkerer an inventor and he had a scientific mind and all he did was he said I'm going to apply that science to people and it was is it completely changed his life around now I know you've worked a lot with the internal monologue I know that you use Zen meditation is that partly why to quiet that monologue or there are other reasons that you're using Zen it was it's probably the main reason I was about to write mastery open I this up and writing a book for me is almost like doing 15 rounds with Muhammad all these books like kill me in the end my digestive tract is ruined I'm exhausted I can't sleep and I'm literally at the end of my third book I thought I was going to die they kill me because of the the intensity at I'm trying to the thought process so I thought I've got it if I don't do something about it mastery will literally kill me so I decided I'm going to take up meditation among other things and I found the benefits were I can I can quiet my mind I can set myself up for the rest of the day and it really really really helped unleash creative energies in me that I didn't even know I had now are those creatives so you've talked about the human mind works on two levels and in in doing so it's not only taking in information from the outside world but it's running it against things that it's already encountered to find interesting connections do you think meditation is allowing you to make more interesting connections because of the the quiet yes I mean I'm not going to go too deeply into this it's a theory of creativity that's not my own but that I use a lot in mastery and basically the idea is that ideas are generated in the unconscious they're not generated consciously your conscious mind is very limited what you can hold in your memory right but unconsciously in your subconscious when you're asleep when you're dreaming the mind is filled with thousands upon thousands of ideas and things that are there that are lingering there and connections are being made all of the time and if occasionally those connections float up to your conscious mind and you have a brilliant idea about how to do something well when you're meditating you're almost like in a dream state you're associating in a really free manner I'll be deep into meditation and I do it for close to an hour in the morning it's very intense well your memories from childhood that I've completely forgotten about smells senses things come bubbling up to the mind when you're able to steal your mind you're freeing up all of that kind of unconscious stuff that's there and connections are happening in a much faster way I had some of the best ideas when I was meditating as everyone has experienced when you were sometimes when you're showering you have a great idea because you're not thinking about anything if they just come to you that's sort of the same idea Charles de Gaulle said I know people expect me to be the guy hiding in the quotes love it but in reality I would much rather be myself you to me are like that right reading your books especially the 48 laws of power which is so consciously aware of how about this it looks objectively at power struggles it makes no judgment about whether they're good or bad but and in not making that judgment stand so far outside of the norm because normally people are like oh going for power zicke you're like look it's a reality people are doing it so meeting you and seeing like a normal guy who's got hopes and dreams and passions and he's pursuing them and he's doing Zen meditation it's not really what people expect do you get that a lot yeah I do that I love that Charles DeGaulle quote I think about it all the time because basically what he was saying is people expect to meet Charles DeGaulle right and I'm not Charles DeGaulle Charles DeGaulle is a name and is an image I'm not that person but I have to become him when I'm in the public so I've learned people don't expect me to be Who I am when I first met 50 cent I wrote a book with 50 cent oh yeah he expected me to be this kind of older guy with gray hair who was just like emanating power and he was sort of probably disappointed I'm not that and I was expecting this mean thug who is going to make me shiver when I was in front of him and he's not like that at all either so you know you're not that image people expect and sometimes you have to play that image so when I go do interviews on television or something I have to become Robert Greene but really I prefer just being Who I am here today and revealing the fact that I am kind of a normal person you know and I do meditate and I have you know all sorts of weird habits and stuff right now you you attack things from weird and unique angles that I think makes your writing really sticky with people and is why I'm so eager for you to write about human nature so I got to be from an angle that other people just aren't aren't able to capture and I may be totally miss reading it but in reading the 48 laws of power and reading the 50th law it feels very different even though clearly about power it feels very different from the power that you talked about in mastery and I'll go back to Benjamin Franklin for a second and you associate him with empathy now people here empathy I use that word all the time trying to explain to people don't be don't sympathize with people if you know they're doing what was me don't get on your knees and what was me with them but offer them empathy and understanding and help them back and and there's a very sort of light beautiful thing to that so they feel like different angles on power like to you are they one in the same or are they really different ways to look at the same thing I see what you're saying it's a very interesting question so the 48 laws of power was really about the kind of the political games that we've all witnessed if we've ever ever worked in an office I have the statistic I say about one out of ten people are like great manipulators and theirs just takes one person and they can ruin your life and there's always somebody like that so the 48 laws of power is about that game that people are playing and how to be aware of it and not get trapped in in getting emotional and not being so naive and so there's not a lot of empathy in that book because I really want to open your eyes I was a naive person when I entered Hollywood which was the main inspiration for the 48 laws I was just a stupid kid that had no idea how Machiavellian Hollywood is and so the book is informed for people like me so there's not a lot of empathy because I'm trying to say look I'm shaking you up don't be so stupid and naive when the doors are closed this is what the power people are doing and you need to be aware of it but the empathy is a really important quality it's a really important quality it's a huge subject in my next book and it played a very big role in mastery it also played a role in a book the art of seduction but essentially I'm trying to say to understand people on a high level not just understand the political games in the manipulation but to really understand them on the deep level so that you can influence them etc you have to be able to get inside their skin and we were born with this natural talent every single person is born with this talent for getting inside the minds of other people it's it's something that you don't even you're not even aware of autistic people are aware of because they don't possess this power and they see other humans doing it it's basically the idea that I can actually sit here and imagine what you Tom might be thinking right at this moment and if I take that deeply enough for 10 15 20 minutes I can actually maybe get inside your mind a little bit we possess this like an animal quality but we don't know how to use it we don't practice it it's like a muscle that never is being you all right then right now is the time how do we help these guys learn to use it because I think you are on to the secret to the universe and my partners and I break the company into three things so there's people process and product and I do the people this is what I do like this is all I focus on is trying to get better at projecting myself into their mind thinking the way that they think and in this company the goal being to help them achieve whatever goal they have so help them how do they need to conceive of that how to what end are they using that skill to make their own dreams come true well I wish I had my mix book written because in that book I reveal all of the secrets you want us to hang out for a few minutes I think so give me in a year and a half I'm patient but I'm not bad facing right okay so the first thing is you're not aware of this power that you have you're walking a lot around in life I'm not critical because I'm the same sort of sleepwalking you're inside hearing your own thoughts day in day out like a continually you know circling loop in your head and you're not aware of the fact that if you stop that and you look at other people a world opens up to you so what's the first component on that world nonverbal communication 95% of what really matters in communication between people is not through words words are used to deceive you to disguise what people are really thinking but in people's body language in their face I are you even aware that there's a difference between a real smile and a fake smile you probably are but how do you recognize a fake smile most of the smiles that people have are fake the eyes don't go up the cheek bones aren't prominent the lips don't go up recognizing a fake smile from a real smile already you understand if someone is really enjoying you or if they're just pretending you can't get that from their words you can get it from their body language of the tenseness of their muscles you can get it from their gestures from the tone of their voice whether it goes up or down at the end of a sense there's a whole world of nonverbal communication that you are just simply ignorant of it's as if you were in France or in there and you didn't know you couldn't speak French you can learn that language the other aspect is understanding what really motivates people what really is the key you're thinking that they have the same values as you do but they don't have the same values their values come maybe come from a completely different place how do you sit there and by talking to them and understanding them and watching them and observing them how can you get a feel for the different culture that they come from and the different set of values that they have there are things that you can learn by talking and observing people particularly over time you've all had the experience if you're in a relationship I've been in a relationship for god I don't even want to say 18 years you know when you've been with someone for eighteen years that who they were when you first met them and who you know now they're not there's not the same you've reached a level of understanding that's pretty profound you don't even have to think about it you know what they're thinking right you can get that with people over time if you're paying attention and you're intense in three months of interaction here at the quest office observing you're going to deepen your knowledge of someone that when you first met them you had no idea but the main idea is there's that knowledge is available and you're not using it because you're not aware of this this the secret language that's going on all right so let's just get into the top three thousand five hundred or so of the millions of things that we could do to help them so in your book mastery you break things down and and some of the really interesting power struggle dynamics that you've talked about in the 48 laws you bring into the book as to how to orchestrate a mentor to not outshine the master things like that to make sure that you're able to get the tutelage but then you also go into the nitty-gritty of actually acquiring scale in the ten thousand our principal and all that stuff so applying that to emotional intelligence and simply reading other people what are what are just a step or two that they can take down that path starting today well I mean the first thing to understand is the most important and that it is a skill so if you want to play the piano you can't just sit down and suddenly play you've got to practice it you've got to practice it every day and if you practice an hour a day you're going to get better at it okay dealing with people is a skill and we don't like to think of it like that I got a lot of flack for the artists seduction because people say I don't want to think of seduction and love and Rome ants as like a skill as something that I have to learn it you kind of D romanticize it well it's not quite like that you know learning to court and seduce someone is actually a skill I'm afraid to say and there are people that are really good at it so you can actually learn the same thing with people get out of this mindset that you just have to be who you are it's a tough I can't use the word fun please go it's a myth but you just have to be who you are yeah you can be who you are when you're home not always either when you then the door closes but when you're here in your office or you're out the work would you can't be who you are because that doesn't work very well you're playing a role you're being the good worker etc well it's also a skill in how to learn how to deal with people and understand their mindset so if it's a skill you've got to practice it and if you've got to practice it you've got to put in hours so every day you're going to give yourself a goal it's very easy for me to tell you to turn off that internal monologue because even as I'm saying it you're still going through it right all right I'm gonna sit here now for an hour I'm gonna make myself not have a single thought I'm gonna absorb myself in when I'm meeting with Tom I'm going to completely shut that out and I'm going to sit there and observe I'm going to take away three things that I have not observed before about Tom okay that's my goal you got to take baby steps you can't suddenly become then Jim in Franklin overnight okay now I'm meeting Tom an hour every day today I'm gonna sit here I'm not gonna listen to myself and I'm gonna pick up three things that I had never observed from Tom before for instance he always tends to sit like this when he's really interested in something what does that mean okay those are the kind of steps where you're basically stopping that monologue immersing yourself in the other person trying to come away with three things for things using your mirror neurons which I discuss a lot in there your your natural empathy and then the most important thing of all you later analyze you learned because if you just simply observe great I learned that Tom likes to sit like that but what does it mean it probably means something when you're not there with them because if you do that when you're with them you can't be in the moment when I get back to my office I'm gonna sit there and think what did that really mean what does that say about Tom well he's very relaxed okay now you're you're you're observing and then you're analyzing them you do that you you you make it a skill you decide you're going to observe new things every day from the same people that you deal with and you analyze it you're already on your way Wow so in in your book mastery yeah you go into great detail about what it actually takes to acquire skill it's really phenomenal you guys you're gonna the reason that it's on the list is for some of these examples the one I'd like you to talk about now so that you understand how many things are going to get in your way and I want to bring everything back to what he said in the beginning know thyself right understand yourself that's step one if you don't understand yourself if you don't really embody that da Vinci quote about the greatest form of mastery is mastery over one's self if you don't embody that you're in real trouble and the reason is it's going to stop you from seeing opportunities to learn so in your book you go and unfortunately I forget the guys name but he went into the Amazon and he tried to learn that language Daniel ever you talk to us a little bit about that in in for in bloom what and how his feeling of superiority became a learning disability the gist of it is why are children able to learn so quickly and so often and so deeply and an adult can't so for instance he was sent to this tribe in Brazil as a missionary to translate the Bible into their language that's clang which called the pita ha and it's probably the most difficult language on the planet to learn that's it's been recognized as it no Westerner has been able to crack this language it's so weird and he went there and he goes well the children can speak it two-year-old kids are learning how to speak Pete aha why can't I why are children able to learn and an adult can the reason is children don't think that they're superior they don't think that they already understand the world they're the small they're weak they're defenseless they have to learn or they're gonna die they have to learn how to speak the language they have to learn how what's going on with their parents or they're literally going to die and when we were children our minds were completely open we were sponges for knowledge because we never have the sense of oh I am great I know everything about the universe I know what's politically correct I know that the Republicans of the Democrats are good or evil I I understand it all I'm wonderful that feeling of superiority it sneaks into you as you get older and it stops you from learning because you don't think you need to learn anymore where as a child begins with them I am weak I am defenseless I am inferior and I have to learn you apply that to what I was talking about in social intelligence or to working here at your office where you are literally in the position of a child you don't know what you need to know and you have to be a sponge you have to observe things that you hadn't been observing before yeah it's really it's fascinating how many of the assumptions that you make are going to either hold you back or push you forward in so I had the good fortune of following a relatively straightforward example of a mentorship from your book that was I met guys that were way ahead of me and I just had no problems submitting myself to them and and truly it there was no sense of loss of ego or anything I was so hungry for what they knew that I was like ah ha ha I'm gonna sit at your feet like a student and I'm gonna drinking as much knowledge as I can but then as you begin to acquire that knowledge and this is where it gets dangerous you start acquiring the knowledge you start feeling more powerful you try your new skills they work you feel more powerful and all of a sudden you run the risk of not thinking like a student anymore not being willing to subjugate yourself to that and this may seem like a weird example but when we started here manufacturing by that point I had my feet under me had been running a business for 8 and 1/2 years I kind of knew what I was doing but I knew at a really visceral level the danger of not being a student in all things and and being stupid enough to think that I knew something and quote that I read in the book has stuck with me forever and it's a genius as a young man's game that scared me right because I don't want that to be true I don't want any day of my life as I get older to be less valuable than in my youth and then he goes on to explain why it's it doesn't have to be a young man's game but it's basically genius is a young man seem typically because you start learning stuff that closes down your world and you start making less and less novel connections like you've talked about so if you can keep your mind open if you can be a student in all things if you're never afraid to be inferior if you're not afraid to approach the language and and in the story in the book about the piraha that you give he it's finally when he realizes that I have to go hunting with him right like I need to go out and really experience their life and then suddenly he truly was at their mercy and if they didn't take care of him he would dies lost and there's animals in the jungle that will happily eat him yeah so and in that funny realizes that he's got this learning disability which is superiority so when we started the company one day it's one of my favorite stories to remind myself of something the toilet overflowed and there's literal human feces on the floor and you know sorry you now have this moment of like hey who's going to pick that up and to remind myself that at all times you have to be willing to to put yourself in the absolute you know quote unquote lowest position went for it and and you picked it up yeah for sure and that became that became cultural and people see that and they see okay cool like that's what it means to really be a student in all things that's what it means to not be afraid to take that yeah the seat at the bottom but it opens you up to just massive degrees of knowledge so do you have tricks that you use for ensuring that genius does not become a young man's game that your books truly get better and better over time you know what it is it's actually I don't know if I recommend it because it's kind of neurotic but it works basically every time I begin a book look I'm deathly afraid of failing I feel like oh it's not going to sell as well as the last book I'm losing it I got to go back to square one I can't rest on my laurels I can't just churn out a book I really got to grind it out I got to do more research I got to think harder and actually there's some there's a wisdom behind it which is each project each thing that you do in life you have to kind of create that that feeling in the gut like oh I don't know if I'm going to be able to pull it off I don't know if I can go 12 rounds with Floyd Mayweather this time I don't know it I'm back to where I was in the beginning you know you got to feel a little bit of that nervousness and that excitement and that sense of I've got to build it now and it's you're starting from zero and that's sort of how I how I approach it and I think that keeps it fresh and I also try never to do the same book twice it's everything has to be a different feel a different subject structured a little differently so it's keep everything fresh you know this the secret really to success in life I have to say is retaining I talk about the semester is retaining your child like qualities if you're completely a child that's not going to work you know so what qualities are useful to keep that from just becoming a cliche you mean how do you do it know what specifically when you say childlike qualities but not all of them which ones do you want to keep well you don't want like temper tantrums and things like that is it you you wanting to keep that openness of mind and that curiosity and that sense of wonder you know and which is what gets back to what I said knock that thing out of your brain that you think you know what the universe is like that you understand the galaxies and what's going on you really don't have any idea you need to get back that sense of wonder and excitement and openness and flexibility of mine if that's all that you have you're just going to be a child and children don't make anything they don't invent you know an iPhone and children don't write like create a movie you'll just be like a child no you have to have your skill your talent and all of that but if you're able to maintain a fluid mind I call it you know I've called it since mastery a yoga for the mind how do you literally stretch your mind so it becomes as flexible as you know so you can do a Down Dog mentally and negative capability is rule number one for being a creative person and if you don't follow anything else in mastery that would be enough negative capability is comes from the great poet John Keats in 19th century he was trying to understand why Shakespeare was so creative and he decided that he had negative capability and it's basically the ability to keep two ideas that contradict each other in your mind without feeling uncomfortable without having to come to a conclusion you can think about something without rushing to judgment a conclusion you can be in the moment you can say well it could be this it could be that it could be that and you don't have to decide whether it's a B or C you're open to adopting three or four different viewpoints for instance I'll give you just a quick example of I'm writing a book on human nature and there's two opposing views on human nature one is it has never changed we are who we are ten million years ago or five hundred thousand years ago and the other is human nature is cultural it constantly evolves now I happen to be of the school that human nature hasn't changed but I am completely open to the other idea and I'm reading books up from the other idea and I'm incorporating ideas from that side because it's a it has definitely legitimate components and arguments to be made so that's how I'm keeping myself from being rigidly stamped with this one simple idea because nothing in life is simple whereas black and white everything is nuanced yeah I love that in your books that that really comes out and everything and when you read the 48 laws and then you end every chapter by saying and now think of this in the complete opposite way or ending the book by saying now forget everything that I've said you have to act think Gordon's remember your for sure and they're they're incredibly powerful and and I was saying to him before we started one of the things I find most powerful in his teachings or the usability of it right and so that's what in the the books that I try to bring the people in the authors and things we try to bring onto the show it's all people that are giving you things are actually usable that you can go home and you can do his form of Zen meditation you can go home and you can start learning how to read people and then not in the moment analyze it but analyze it when you get back and all they're usable and they will have impact and on those lines I want to go back to something that you said a few minutes ago and you were talking about capturing that childlike state and finding enthusiasm you've got a really awesome quote let's see if I'm going to paraphrase about me pretty close not building your life around passion is a recipe for disaster and pain something like that but then because a lot of people say that right like oh you got a little life passion blah blah blah but you take it to the next step and it's utterly fascinating which is if you love music don't quit your job and play guitar like you can have a hard time feeding your family but you have advice for them what is that advice yeah but people say you know live your passion so these are cliches and nobody changes their life based on the cliche you know you've got to do hard work and to do hard work you have to have a roadmap somebody has to show you steps that you know that to get there and so you know I'm trying to really really really want to help people I really want them to become entrepreneurs but I think working for yourself starting your own company doing what you love should be everybody's goal okay how do you really help people to say follow your passion it's just so simple and easy there's a process the process begins by first knowing what you really love and believe me I do a lot of consulting a lot of people have no self-awareness they don't even really know what it is that they were meant to do in life they loved music when they were a kid but then they got into law or whatever because of their parents and then they don't know who they are anymore what do I really like music you got to go through that says first of figuring out what it is that really connects to you in a deep visceral way what you loved it when you were a kid what still excites you once you go through that and you understand it you've got some clarity about it okay how do I incorporate that in my life you call those primal inclinations right yes and everybody has them I talk about all the geniuses in history who demonstrated this Einstein with a compass Steve Jobs when he's five years old walks by an electronics store with his dad and suddenly oh look at those gadgets those weird gadgets are that's so exciting it really great geniuses and creative people have those moments when they're five six years old and you probably did but you're not remembering them anyway connecting with that primal part of yourself and then actually doing something practical and that's the real trick in life so if you're 23 years old it's a little easier I love music but I'm not a musician because I not been practicing I just love music but I actually have a real good sense of business so I've been studying business and I have an MBA etc okay I've got to now find a way to craft a career that combines my knowledge of business and my love of music and if I follow that and I do it smart and I plan it out eventually what starts out with more more business than music will end up becoming more creative as I get better and better at it you've got to figure out how you can take your experience and move in a different direction and be practical and take small steps and still feed my family but pursue something that I love and the reason is if you don't do this you're going to end up in deep because you're going to turn 40 years old you're going to be at a job that you hate you're going to be really depressed and you're going to be at an age where you don't have the energy to make a big change and you're going to be screwed and particularly in the world today where things are moving so quickly and there's so many dead-end career you've got to be light on your feet and you've got to be I think have an entrepreneurial spirit you don't want to be at that point so it is life and death you're not thinking of it right now is life and death but it is it really is you've got a cool quote the pain and boredom we experience in the initial stages of learning a skill strengthens our mind yeah how do you prepare somebody to survive that initial stage of boredom and pain well pain is great you've got to embrace pain pain is pleasure you've got to make the connection between the physical and the mental when you work out it's painful um I I do long-distance swimming is like my main workout I also do other things but that's my main workout I'm on like mile one and I'm like god this is fun I'm so bored and it's so I'm really going to collapse but when I'm finished I am like oh man I've got so much energy and it feels so good and I pushed past it well you know that when you're exercising when you're running or you're working out whatever it hurts but it leads to something pleasurable you have to be able to translate that to mental things and if you make that could that switch in your mind it is mind blowing what can happen to you if the boredom of learning something technical and you're able to say to yourself wow I'm going to master this bit of coding after a few months and just think of what's going to allow me to do okay so the boredom now is actually not so bad because I can imagine the powers that it's going to lead to I'm not going to skip the steps I'm still going to learn but I'm thinking of all of that that post-workout feeling I'm going to have you've got to be able to understand embrace pain pain is something to embrace if there's no resistance to you you're not going to get anywhere in life who who are the most messed up people in the world spoiled kids kids who are given everything who have a rich father or mother and they don't have to work or try they are the most messed up people you'll ever meet are you writing a book on human nature why is that true because they have no limits they have no resistance they don't have to push against anything they don't have to go like that to get sarahfey something in the brain do you think well I it's one of the laws of human nature though one of the laws is about what I call necessity we are animals of necessity when we have to discover or build something we build it if our life is on the line that's how we were as how we're genetically primed from several million years ago and when there's no necessity when we don't have to do something we just lie around and watch television and smoke pot if there's nothing holding you resisting that you have to push against you just turn into flab that is so incredibly powerful and I hope that that's a chapter in your books I'm desperate to read to say yes it is do you know Peter Diamandis by any chance XPrize yes he he has Peters laws and one of his laws is when faced without a challenge create one yeah hearing the context you just gave about us being animals of necessity which I love very much and him immediately going to adopt within my repertoire I hope that's okay but full credit to Robert you don't even have to create that that really sheds new light on why that would be so powerful to create obstacle difficulty necessity when it's not prying talks about that so I wrote a whole book on that the obstacle is the way do you know yeah um well it's just it's just very it's very powerful I you know I have in my war book I have a chapter on the death ground strategy I think it's one of the more important chapters in the book and the idea is comes from Sun Tzu and when you put an army on death ground it fights three times as hard and what is death ground death ground is let's say you're an army and you're fighting on the beach and if the enemy pushes you back you all drown okay you've got a fight twice as hard you're going to die well we're the same way when we have to do something we work three times harder and I had an experience with that with mastery where I was really late in finishing the book and I had two chapters left the two longest hardest chapters and the publisher said Robert you have 11 weeks to finish those two chapters or we're canceling your book oh because you're so late that was death ground because I if I if they cancel it what am I going to do but I don't I can't do it in 11 weeks well I did it I I worked I just found the energy so when you're put in that desist situation of necessity you work you work that way you have to put yourself on death ground on purpose that's the trick in life you've talked about that before and you draw really fascinating conclusion which is uh there's a quote the depth of our learning is tied to the depth of our focus well I I know for instance like just to give you an example of how to do that Thomas Edison was a great believer in that Thomas Edison is one of the greatest entrepreneurs that ever lived and what he would do is for instance he would talk about a project before he had even really thought it through to the press and that meant his reputation was now on the line if he now didn't go and spend 4,000 hours of insane work to actually figure out what he had just blabbed to the press his reputation would be ruined oh he's talking about electric light and he suddenly doesn't do anything he put him on death ground alright I talked about it now I have to do it that's just an example that's a great example all right before we get under your Twitter feed which I really want to spend some time on if you had one piece of advice for these guys any one concept from one of your books or your upcoming book the thing that they should just put in their mind and let that be a seed that grows into something well she probably just read my books look at that well the you know the idea I'll just give it a little more flesh is is the idea of self-awareness so let's giving it a more flesh means what it means that each person I make this point Street is born unique and it's kind of a clit one of those cliches but there's science to it the science is your DNA will has never been will never be repeated the way your brain is wired will never be repeated your experiences in life you're one of a kind and it's amazing thought if you think about it of all of the billions of humans that have lived and will ever live there will never be anybody who is wired like you are wired and the the problem in life is as you get older you can become more and more like other people you spend a lot of your time thinking about what other people like and you don't you're not aware of what you like you go into careers because you listen to other people and you don't you're not in tune with something really special and I like to use the word weird because I think we're the good word there's something weird about you that can be bad but it can also be really good you know and you're not mining that weirdness you're letting it go you're becoming a copy of other people and if you can take a step back and say what is the goal when the goal is when I'm 40 years old or 35 or whatever I'm going to create a business that reflects me and my strangeness and who I am that's what you want to come to but you're not going to get there unless you're aware of it and embrace what makes you different it doesn't mean you as I said before that you're not practical there's got to be a practical roadmap to getting there but if you look at all of the brilliant people who've succeeded in life if you look at a Steve Jobs you look at an Elon Musk etc there's nobody else out there like them you're never going to be able to pinpoint one other person like them they are completely unique and those are the people that end up having power in the world so if you're going to able to create that website that blog that whatever it is that startup that is different that has its own niche and reflects you something good will happen from I always like to tell people the moment that I fell in love with them the moment that I fell in love with you my biggest frustration in life is very very powerful words become trite and cliché over time because people don't get to the real meaning behind them yeah which in fact one of your favorite quotes the Nietzsche quote that which doesn't kill me makes me stronger yeah you find a way to go beyond the cliche to something that's that's a true insight and to reference concept that you talked a lot about in the art of seduction you say to truly be interesting to your victim to use your words you you need to be contradictory you need to reveal or hint at some internal contradiction in yourself and and so here we have this guy who is writing about power and and truly in a Machiavellian way like just uncovering it the cold hard truths about it and yet that person who I would expect to laugh at the cliche of your beautiful unique snowflake spends a lot of time very eloquently explaining to people the importance of recognizing that you're a beautiful and unique snowflake and and then goes on to explain why that's meaningful I love that about you know think you really was something that drew me into your universe oh thank you I've never heard that expressed that way that's very nice for sure thank you cool now to the Twitter feed okay boys and girls if you are not already following at Robert Greene on Twitter you should be he's got just a an amazing feed he's throwing out nuggets from his books religiously they're cold to be just the cream of the crop every one of them is impactful there's not a wasted letter in his feeds well worth checking out I want to go through some of them there and these are just the recent ones I mean this stuff is is going on all day every day and just have you comment on them so here a recent one control people's perceptions of reality and you control them it's a great military strategy comes from the great Colonel Boyd who invented the what's known as the OODA loop are you familiar with the coup de loop I am NOT well it's a military concept and the John Boyd was a fighter pilot in the US military one of the great modern strategists of all time and being a fighter pilot is not like anything else in life because you have to make decisions in microseconds or you're dead and you have to strategize in microseconds and he came up with the OODA loop which means orientation observation decision action you have to observe what is happening orient yourself into the context of it decide what you need to do and act and people whose you de loop has been disrupted they can't observe they can't orient themselves lose contact with reality and you lose contact with reality in one second and you're a dead fighter pilot so the job is to control the other fighter pilots perception of realities that they make a mistake you can get on their tail and you can kill them and so in military terms if you can change how people perceive reality and make them think they see what they don't see you've got power over them well that applies to advertising it applies to political campaigns if you can set your enemy on a red herring and make them think that they're chasing something important but it isn't important you have power over them your contact with reality is yours is your power in life and if you lose it you're in trouble and that's what that's about all of that all right the only real ending is death everything else is a transition my life is sort of an example of that in that I was kind of a loser until I was about 35 36 years old least according to my parents haha in that uh I wandered through life trying different jobs I did construction work in Greece I was a tour operator in Dublin I was a teacher of English in Barcelona I wrote screenplays and I had 50 different jobs and then my parents were about like well what the what are you gonna do in life you know we this is ridiculous and then I met this man who was a book packager and he ask me for an idea for a book and I kind of came up with the 48 laws of power and he loved it and he so you got to do that but the point in the moral of my story was all of those weird transitions and things that didn't mean anything I could suddenly bring them all together in the 48 laws of power all those awful awful bosses I had worked for all of those terrible jobs I worked in for a private detective agency out in Pasadena for a while the most depressing job I've ever had in my life Hollywood these asshole directors I could draw upon all of this weirdness and then all the books that I had read on history and create the 48 laws of power so there were no deaths there they were just transitions I think if that's what the oh yeah I'd love is exactly what I meant superiority is not a function of natural talent or privilege but rather of time and experience we won believe that there are shortcuts to success we want to believe we can take a drug or we can do something that'll make it quick and easy but the truth is it takes grit it takes persistence it's the people like Thomas Edison who had no education who came from very poor background who really end up making it in life because they are persistent and they don't settle for anything remotely mediocre that's what ends up making you get ahead in the world and it's so it's really democratic and that's what's so great about it and that's what so great about the world that we live in we live in a time where things are not purely democratic don't get me wrong but they are much more democratic than they were in the past a meritocracy it's not about if you went to Yale or or if your daddy is rich it's about you and and you have the material to get there and one last thing I'll say on that is one of the people I interviewed for mastery Paul Graham who has a company called Y Combinator in Silicon Valley which is a sort of a a training school for people who want to create a startup he said that the he kept there is no correlation between where people went to university and their success at yet what I commenter there's zero correlation whether you went to Yale or you went to Dallas Community College there's equal chance that you will be successful I thought that was an amazing thing to hear and he's seen that in action with tens of thousands of people all right and then last one and this one is most important to me you talked about earlier talked about using fear to get you in the place where you're working hard enough to really do great work and this is something that that haunts my every waking moment eventually the time that was not spent on learning skills will catch up with you and the fall will be painful you know you know it's hard to in the moment to understand what that means because in the moment you can say well I've got a job and I'm alive and you know I I feel pretty good so it's hard to understand what could happen to you in 10 years in a visceral gut way of what it means to failed in life and to me failure in life is not not having money it's not realizing your potential you're 60 years old and you said I could have been this and I never did it that's like the worst thought I think anybody can have and you don't think about it in the moment because your life is okay but you've got to wake up and understand that there's an urgency here and that if you're not practicing something now if you're not aware if you don't have a path towards something better you're rotting on the vine and and that day of reckoning will come at some point and it will be painful you're not going to feel that suddenly it'll be slow but it'll come and it won't be good and it doesn't mean like every day has to be a grind and has to be awful oftentimes if you're in a bad job just being aware that you now have a plan is enough to lift you out of that depression okay I'm working a Burger King but I know I want to get to this community college and get a degree here after I save enough money having a goal is like ah will change you completely from being depressed or not taking care of yourself to being energized and moving in the right direction so you don't think there's a day of reckoning but it's piling up as you're sitting here now and you've got to be proactive about it yeah yeah that that to me is is so critical and I've talked endlessly about it but for me it really is how many skills can you acquire how many interesting connections can you make well we live in a world ask ill economy where people with actual general genuine skills are going to be the ones that move the planet in the future and it doesn't mean one skill it means set of skills that you combine in a unique way and that's the world is so open to that now your start starting of quest is a prime example of calm of combining strange and interesting skills I mean you could probably talk about that better than I can but your screenwriting your other failure the things you've accumulated you come now you'd create this monster called quest based on all the different skills you've accumulated yeah it's interesting I have never put it together in my own mind that succinctly but you're absolutely right Robert thank you so much for being on the show you can't imagine the degree of personal pleasure that I've gotten out of this so thank you guys I hope you got as much out of that as I did and everybody out there watching we are only beginning to scratch the surface of this man's work he's got a slew of amazing books you're going to want to read them all mastery even the stuff that we talked about here today is a wealth of information you're going to go hear about Temple Grandin amazing stories they're about how Henry Ford turned massive repeated failures into the empire that he did much more about Benjamin Franklin Freddie Roach we didn't even talk about Freddie Roach and the amazing journey of going from failed boxer to the perhaps greatest boxing coach of all time they're all covered in the book read it apply it and it will put you on a path to your own mastery Robert again thank you so much if you're not following him where can we find you other than Twitter we know you're at Robert Greene where else WWE power seduction or comm power seduction and war calm the greatest URL of all time I'm signing up today so thank you so much for coming we will be eagerly anticipating your book if we can serve you in any way in the creation of that book we will be human footstools if that's what it takes to bring this book into the world whatever your name you'll bring me coffee and so if you think I'm kidding okay early draft of that book Robert there's not a lot to do okay thank you thank you for pre very well into the world and thanks for being on the show thank you so much my pleasure all right guys this is a weekly show so if you haven't already be sure to subscribe there you can also find us at inside quest com we've got all kinds of extras from the show blog post and all kinds of great stuff so be sure to go there to find things you didn't see here today on the show thank you for joining us and we'll see you next time until then be great my friends take coming up next inside questions you mentioned that roughly one out of ten people our expert manipulators you find them to be the most successful people well they've been written great books written about that about Psychopaths and how psychopaths are more powerful and successful in life and the moment they overreach the moment they do something wrong everybody piles on and there and they and they go from the top to the bottom

22 thoughts on “Author Robert Greene on the Utility of Weirdness, Fear, and Pain Inside Quest

  1. I try to observe ppl but then they catch me and become uncomfortable.. :

  2. The one and only Robert Greene the Makavelian god father of knowledge and Power

  3. Learn learn learn and unlearn learn unlearn, each level of ur life u will have to go through the process of learning and unlearning and that’s the key to quality and becoming human. Perspective is learned.

  4. Hey what is that list of the 15 books to read? I want it!

  5. yes excellent interview (agree with others that the swoosh sound for titles below is really annoying and totally unnecessary).

  6. I feel so privileged and so lucky to have known this author.. he has been a great, great help of me.. his books are my guiding principles.. he helped me improve myself, to see things as they are.. to realize how important it is not to be governed by emotions.. to be a good strategist, to understand myself and to understand people to a visceral level!
    Thank you so much for sharing us your knowledge and your experiences .. I’m praying for your health .. you deserve to live longer and enjoy life to the fullest..

  7. I truly believe that if you persistently apply his laws to your life, you'll be the shit! I mean totally unstoppable at every and anything that you go for!

  8. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert's points of view. Great man, great talk!

  9. So, I'm watching it with extreme fascination and admiration for Robert Greene's wisdom and personality until, Bang!, he says something like: … and then you turn forty and you don't have the energy to change your career… Please, why did you do it to me, Robert? I'm working my as off to actually change my career and I'm going to make it possible, regardless of what you think 😜

  10. I love Robert Greene's books his writings are hilarious have depth like no other.

  11. I almost finish the book..And it is great!!!!!!
    Robert. is so humble and intelligent.
    I loved the interview.

  12. 50:36 This hurt me to hear the term "loser" because personally I am going through that same kind of thing in my life now at 28 and it feels damaging and hopeless to call it being a loser. Trying different jobs out seems like I took the hard road but maybe, the difficult path is the one that will bring us to a more concrete and stable future? It really fucking hurts to hear that negative term used for someone going through a transition and man does it suck to have to go through the job searching process over and over again. Doesn't that account for something?

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