Without question, The 48 laws of Power reads like a secret list of tips on "how to be an MD in an investment bank, a PM in a hedge fund, or a top performer in any other financial firm". It is really good meaty stuff, rock solid in fact. The kind of stuff so valuable, only a close friend or family member would ever share it with you.
In many ways, I would describe these modern rules as very Machiavellian and perfect for the world of finance today. These are timeless markers for any career path. They seem both practical and essential for any young or mid-level executive's future high powered career. If you have ambition, then this is your secret road map for the "insider rules of success". Learn them all well.
I have many favorites, but the first of note is #1 never outshine the master. I cannot tell you how many times, some new junior dealer tries to impress the MD, with his new higher level skills. Within a short time, he is transferred to another desk or fired with no understanding as to why.
Another great one touches on the truth, and how useless it may be. Again young people feel that if they are right, they can get ahead. However rule #9 Win through your actions, never through argument, is worth noting. If some MD says you cannot make money from that client, do not argue. Just focus, book the P/L, show the P/L and explain that "something has changed", so now the firm is able to deal with the client again. No blame or argument takes place, only an adjustment of the situation.
I was very impressed with one VP who soon became an MD. He valued rule #18 Do not build Fortresses to protect Yourself- Isolation is Dangerous. He told me that even though he did not smoke, he took smoking breaks, and chatted with other senior in the smoking room. In fact, one of the biggest deals he ever closed was a result of one of those conversations. He heard something he never would have heard before, and he acted on it and closed a major deal for the firm. Information only flows when it is shared. A person alone shares very little and does not often succeed.
If you are smart and know the answer, never give it out too early. Rule #37 Master the Art of Timing, is key. When inside any tough situation, if you know how to exit or source a solution, let others around you or above you feel the pressure. Once you sense that an end is near or the firm may need to give up on any opportunity, that is the best time to offer the solution everyone needs. Two impressions will be made, not only that you could find the solution, but that you could find it "just in time". The fact that you had it ready previously would have been wasted when bonus time arrives.
I am surprised by some in finance who discredit "politicians" as useless in a firm. Rule #43 Work on the Hearts and Minds of Others, is very important. Any bonus often needs to be decided on my a number of people, never one, if it is big. All of those who would determine your bonus need to be understood and appealed to. There is no such thing as "the right amount" for anybody, no bonus number is "fair". The more you can be approved by those around you, who value your contribution, the more likely that bonus your will be larger.
The Top 3 Takeaways from this book that really impact any reader are:
1) There is a lot to learn about how to succeed within any organization, financial or otherwise. IQ is not EQ, and this book underlines many of the "soft skill points" too many promising people overlook, that hold them back.
2) The more of these rules you read, the more you think that a better title for this book may be, "how not to waste your time on things that do not help your career, only hurt it, and keep your high compensation delayed."
3) Becoming successful is not simple or quick. There is no easy action that can save your career instantly. The road is long and takes time, and is full of possible dangers. It is best to be cautious with your career.
A final note that ensures a fat bonus from your MD or senior management is #46, Never appear too perfect. Envy from others is to be avoided. It is best to create a foolish vice or weakness, even if it is not true. It make others who judge you to relax. It can be anything such as disco music from the 1970s, or being a Superman comic book fan. Having something, anything even minor and superficial, that others around you can be aware of, allows you to be accepted as human, and worth the big bucks! Highly recommended, without question.
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