#48-laws-of-power #Be-Royal-in-your-own-Fashion #law-34 #robert-greene


The way you carry yourself will often determine how you are treated: In the long run, appearing vulgar or common will make people disrespect you. For a king respects himselfand inspires the same sentiment in others. By acting regally and confident ofyourpowers, you makeyourselfseem destined to wear a crown.


In July of 1830, a revolution broke out in Paris that forced the king, Charles X, to abdicate. A commission ofthe highest authorities in the land gathered to choose a successor, and the man they picked was Louis-Philippe, the Duke of Orleans.

From the beginning it was clear that Louis-Philippe would be a different kind ofking, and notjust because he came from a different branch of the royal family, or because he had not inherited the crown but had been given it, by a commission, putting his legitimacy in question. Rather it was that he disliked ceremony and the trappings of royalty; he had more friends among the bankers than among the nobility; and his style was not to create a new kind of royal rule, as Napoleon had done, but to downplay his status, the better to mix with the businessmen and middle-class folk who had called him to lead. Thus the symbols that came to be associated with Louis-Philippe were neither the scepter nor the crown, but the gray hat and umbrella with which he would proudly walk the streets ofParis, as if he were a bourgeois out for a stroll. When Louis-Philippe invited James Rothschild, the most important banker in France, to his palace, he treated him as an equal. And unlike any king before him, not only did he talk business with Monsieur Rothschild but that was literally all he talked, for he loved money and had amassed a huge fortune.

As the reign ofthe “bourgeois king” plodded on, people came to despise him. The aristocracy could not endure the sight of an unkingly king, and within a few years they turned on him. Meanwhile the growing class ofthe poor, including the radicals who had chased out Charles X, found no satisfaction in a ruler who neither acted as a king nor governed as a man of the people. The bankers to whom Louis-Philippe was the most beholden soon realized that it was they who controlled the country, not he, and they treated him with growing contempt One day, at the start of a train trip organized for the royal family, James Rothschild actually berated him—and in public—for being late. Once the king had made news by treating the banker as an equal; now the banker treated the king as an inferior.

Eventually the workers’ insurrections that had brought down Louis-Philippe’s predecessor began to reemerge, and the king put them down with force. But what was he defending so brutally? Not the institution of the monarchy, which he disdained, nor a democratic republic, which his rule prevented. What he was really defending, it seemed, was his own fortune, and the fortunes of the bankers—not a way to inspire loyalty among the citizenry.

Never lose your self-respect, nor be too familiar with yourselfwhen you are alone. Let your integrity itselfbe your own standard ofrectitude, and be more indebted to the severity ofyour own judgment ofyourselfthan to all external precepts. Desistfrom unseemly conduct, rather out of respectfor your own virtue thanfor the strictures ofexternal authority. Come to holdyourselfin awe, andyou will have no need ofSeneca's imaginary tutor.


In early 1848, Frenchmen ofall classes began to demonstrate for electoral reforms that would make the country truly democratic. By February the demonstrations had turned violent. To assuage the populace, Louis-Philippe fired his prime minister and appointed a liberal as a replacement. But this created the opposite ofthe desired effect: The people sensed they could push the king around. The demonstrations turned into a full-fledged revolution, with gunfire and barricades in the streets.

On the night of February 23, a crowd of Parisians surrounded the palace. With a suddenness that caught everyone by surprise, Louis-Philippe abdicated that very evening and fled to England. He left no successor, nor even the suggestion of one—his whole government folded up and dissolved like a traveling circus leaving town.


Louis-Philippe consciously dissolved the aura that naturally pertains to kings and leaders. Scoffing at the symbolism of grandeur, he believed a new world was dawning, where rulers should act and be like ordinary citizens. He was right: A new world, without kings and queens, was certainly on its way. He was profoundly wrong, however, in predicting a change in the dynamics of power.

The bourgeois king’s hat and umbrella amused the French at first, but soon grew irritating. People knew that Louis-Philippe was not really like them at all—that the hat and umbrella were essentially a kind oftrick to encourage them in the fantasy that the country had suddenly grown more equal. Actually, though, the divisions ofwealth had never been greater. The French expected their ruler to be a bit of a showman, to have some presence. Even a radical like Robespierre, who had briefly come to power during the French Revolution fifty years earlier, had understood this, and certainly Napoleon, who had turned the revolutionary republic into an imperial regime, had known it in his bones. Indeed as soon as Louis-Philippe fled the stage, the French revealed their true desire: They elected Napoleon’s grand-nephew president. He was a virtual unknown, but they hoped he would re-create the great general’s powerful aura, erasing the awkward memory of the “bourgeois king.”

Powerful people may be tempted to affect a common-man aura, trying to create the illusion that they and their subjects or underlings are basically die same. But the people whom this false gesture is intended to impress will quickly see through it They understand that they are not being given more power—that it only appears as ifthey shared in the powerful person’s fate. The only kind ofcommon touch that works is the kind affected by Franklin Roosevelt, a style that said the president shared values and goals with the common people even while he remained a patrician at heart. He never pretended to erase his distance from the crowd.

Leaders who try to dissolve that distance through a false chumminess gradually lose the ability to inspire loyalty, fear, or love. Instead they elicit contempt. Like Louis-Philippe, they are too uninspiring even to be worth the guillotine—the best they can do is simply vanish in the night, as if they were never there.


When Christopher Columbus was trying to find funding for his legendary voyages, many around him believed he came from the Italian aristocracy. This view was passed into history through a biography written after the explorer’s death by his son, which describes him as a descendant of a Count Colombo ofthe Castle ofCuccaro in Montferrat Colombo in turn was said to be descended from the legendary Roman general Colonius, and two of his first cousins were supposedly direct descendants ofan emperor ofCon stantinople. An illustrious background indeed. But it was nothing more than illustrious fantasy, for Columbus was actually the son of Domenico Colombo, a humble weaver who had opened a wine shop when Christopher was a young man, and who then made his living by selling cheese.

Columbus himself had created the myth of his noble background, because from early on he felt that destiny had singled him out for great things, and that he had a kind of royalty in his blood. Accordingly he acted as if he were indeed descended from noble stock. After an uneventful career as a merchant on a commercial vessel, Columbus, originally from Genoa, settled in Lisbon. Using the fabricated story ofhis noble background, he married into an established Lisbon family that had excellent connections with Portuguese royalty.

Through his in-laws, Columbus finagled a meeting with the king of Portugal, Joao II, whom he petitioned to finance a westward voyage aimed at discovering a shorter route to Asia. In return for announcing that any discoveries he achieved would be made in the king’s name, Columbus wanted a series ofrights: the title Grand Admiral ofthe Oceanic Sea; the office ofviceroy over any lands he found; and 10 percent ofthe future commerce with such lands. All ofthese rights were to be hereditary and for all time. Columbus made these demands even though he had previously been a mere merchant, he knew almost nothing about navigation, he could not work a quadrant, and he had never led a group ofmen. In short he had absolutely no qualifications for the journey he proposed. Furthermore, his petition included no details as to how he would accomplish his plans, just vague promises.

When Columbus finished his pitch, Joao II smiled: He politely declined the offer, but left the door open for the future. Here Columbus must have noticed something he would never forget: Even as the king turned down the sailor’s demands, he treated them as legitimate. He neither laughed at Columbus nor questioned his background and credentials. In fact the king was impressed by the boldness of Columbus’s requests, and clearly felt comfortable in the company of a man who acted so confidently. The meeting must have convinced Columbus that his instincts were correct: By asking for the moon, he had instantly raised his own status, for the king assumed that unless a man who set such a high price on himself were mad, which Columbus did not appear to be, he must somehow be worth it.


In the next generation thefamily became much morefamous than before through the distinction conferred upon it by Cleisthenes the master ofSicyon. Cleisthenes... had a daughter, Agarista, whom he wished to marry to the best man in all Greece. So during the Olympic games, in which he had himself won the chariot race, he had a public announcement made, to the effect that any Greek whothoughthimselfgoodenough tobecome Cleisthenes'son-in-lawshouldpresenthimselfin

Sicyon within sixty days—or sooner ifhe wished—because he intended, within the yearfollowing the sixtieth day, to betroth his daughter to herfuture husband. Cleisthenes had had a race-track and a wrestling-ring specially madefor his purpose, andpresently the suitors began to arrive— every man of Greek nationality who had something to be proud ofeither in his country or in himself... Cleisthenes began by asking each [ofthe numerous suitors] in turn to name his country and parentage; then he kept them in his housefor a year, to get to know them well, entering into conversation with them sometimes singly, sometimes all together, and testing each ofthemfor his manly qualities and temper, education and manners.... But the most important test ofall was their behaviour at the dinner-table. All this went on throughout their stay in Sicyon, and all the time he entertained them handsomely. For one reason or another it was the two Athenians who impressed Cleisthenes mostfavourably, and ofthe two Tisander s son Hippocleides came to be preferred.... At last the day came which had beenfixedfor the betrothal, and Cleisthenes had to declare his choice. He marked the day by the sacrifice ofa hundred oxen, and then gave a great banquet, to which not only the suitors but everyone ofnote in Sicyon was invited. When dinner was over, the suitors began to compete with each other in music and in talking in company. In both these accomplishments it was Hippocleides who proved byfar the doughtiest champion, until at last, as more and more wine was drunk, he asked theflute-player to play him a tune and began to dance to it. Now it may well be that he danced to his own satisfaction; Cleisthenes, however, who was watching the performance, began to have serious doubts about the whole business. Presently, after a briefpause, Hippocleides sentfor a table; the table was brought, and Hippocleides, climbing on to it, dancedfirst some Laconian dances, next some Attic ones, and ended by standing on his head and beating time with his legs in the air The Laconian and Attic dances were bad enough; but Cleisthenes, though he already loathed the thought ofhaving a son-in-law like that, nevertheless restrained himself and managed to avoid an outburst; but when he saw Hippocleides beating time withhislegs,hecouldbearitnolonger. “SonofTisander,”hecried, “youhavedancedawayyour marriage. ”


A few years later Columbus moved to Spain Using his Portuguese connections, he moved in elevated circles at the Spanish court, receiving subsidies from illustrious financiers and sharing tables with dukes and princes. To all these men he repeated his request for financing for a voyage to the west—and also for the rights he had demanded from Joao EL Some, such as the powerful duke of Medina, wanted to help, but could not, since they lacked the power to grant him the titles and rights he wanted. But Columbus would not back down. He soon realized that only one person could meet his demands: Queen Isabella. In 1487 he finally managed a meeting with the queen, and although he could not convince her to finance the voyage, he completely charmed her, and became a frequent guest in the palace.

In 1492 the Spanish finally expelled the Moorish invaders who centuries earlier had seized parts of the country. With the wartime burden on her treasury lifted, Isabella felt she could finally respond to the demands ofher explorer friend, and she decided to pay for three ships, equipment, the salaries of the crews, and a modest stipend for Columbus. More important, she had a contract drawn up that granted Columbus the titles and rights on which he had insisted. The only one she denied—and only in the contract’s fine print—was the 10 percent of all revenues from any lands discovered: an absurd demand, since he wanted no time limit on it. (Had the clause been left in, it would eventually have made Columbus and his heirs the wealthiest family on the planet. Columbus never read the fine print.) Satisfied that his demands had been met, Columbus set sail that same year in search of the passage

to Asia. (Before he left he was careful to hire the best navigator he could find to help him get there.) The mission failed to find such a passage, yet when Columbus petitioned the queen to finance an even more ambitious voyage the following year, she agreed. By then she had come to see Columbus as destined for great things.


As an explorer Columbus was mediocre at best. He knew less about the sea than did the average sailor on his ships, could never determine the latitude and longitude ofhis discoveries, mistook islands for vast continents, and treated his crew badly. But in one area he was a genius: He knew how to sell himselfHow else to explain how the son ofa cheese vendor, a low-level sea merchant, managed to ingratiate himselfwith the highest royal and aristocratic families?

Columbus had an amazing power to charm the nobility, and it all came from the way he carried himself. He projected a sense ofconfidence thatwas completelyout ofproportionto his means. Nor was his confidence the aggressive, ugly self-promotion of an upstart—it was a quiet and calm self- assurance. In fact it was the same confidence usually shown by the nobility themselves. The powerful in the old-style aristocracies felt no need to prove or assert themselves; being noble, they knew they always deserved more, and asked for it With Columbus, then, they felt an instant affinity, for he carried himselfjust the way they did—elevated above the crowd, destined for greatness.

Understand: It is within your power to set your own price. How you carry yourself reflects what you think of yourself. If you ask for little, shuffle your feet and lower your head, people will assume this reflects your character. But this behavior is not you—it is only how you have chosen to present yourselfto other people. You can just as easily present the Columbus front: buoyancy, confidence, and the feeling that you were bom to wear a crown.

With all great deceivers there is a noteworthy occurrence to which they owe their power In the actual act of deception they are overcome by belief in themselves: it is this which then speaks so miraculously and compellingly to those around them.

Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900


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