Robert Greene (@RobertGreene) is the author of multiple New York Times bestsellers on power and strategy. His latest book is The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature. [This is part two of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part one here!]
What We Discuss with Robert Greene:
- The benefits of cultivating profound dissatisfaction with your own work while it’s still in the process of being created.
- Why the attitude you have of the world has a feedback effect on the way the world sees you (and how you can change that attitude if it doesn’t serve you).
- The emotional self thrives on ignorance: how focusing on the rational instead of succumbing to your feelings deprives those who prey on your emotions of their power.
- How you can balance the need to be rational, cautious, and skeptical with the benefits of being curious and open-minded to new ideas.
- What you can do to train yourself to see past the front that people put on and discover the signs of their true character.
- And much more…
Like this show? Please leave us a review here — even one sentence helps! Consider including your Twitter handle so we can thank you personally!
Who doesn’t want to be more powerful? More in control? The best at what they do? Power and strategy expert Robert Greene rejoins us (make sure to check out his last appearance here) to discuss how we can meet all of these targets as outlined in his latest book, The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature — which offers a page of refined and concise wisdom for each day of the year. Each month centers around a major theme: power, seduction, persuasion, strategy, human nature, toxic people, self-control, mastery, psychology, leadership, adversity, or creativity.
Some might find digging into the Machiavellian levers of human behavior something of a dark art that should be buried away from those who would abuse its potential, but we take the other approach: this is information to which everyone should have access. It allows us to better know ourselves and explain why we behave the way we do, it gives us valuable insight into the mechanisms by which others operate, and it gives us the tools to resist manipulation by others for their own ends. Listen, learn, and enjoy! [This is part two of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part one here!]
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Sign up for Six-Minute Networking — our free networking and relationship development mini course — at jordanharbinger.com/course!
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Miss the show we did with The 48 Laws of Power author Robert Greene? Catch up here with episode 117: What You Need to Know about the Laws of Human Nature!
Thanks, Robert Greene!
If you enjoyed this session with Robert Greene, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature by Robert Greene | Amazon
- The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene | Amazon
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene | Amazon
- Other Books by Robert Greene | Amazon
- Robert Greene | Website
- Robert Greene | Instagram
- Robert Greene | Facebook
- Robert Greene | Medium
- Robert Greene | Twitter
- Robert Greene | Discovering The Laws of Human Nature | Jordan Harbinger
- How David Letterman Reinvented TV | Rolling Stone
- The Real Reason Johnny Depp Doesn’t Watch His Movies | The Things
- The Pygmalion Effect | Duquesne University
- Introvert and Extrovert Personality Traits | Simply Psychology
- What History Teaches Us About Demagogues | Time
- 6 Biases Holding You Back From Rational Thinking by Robert Greene | Medium
- Tucker Carlson Is Stirring Up Hatred of America | The Atlantic
- Heuristics | The Decision Lab
- How to Ride a Horse (with Pictures) | wikiHow
- The Aviator | Prime Video
- The Spruce Goose | Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum | Wings & Waves Waterpark | McMinnville Oregon
- Historical Perspectives: Famous Bubbles | Frontline, PBS
- The Great Recession | Investopedia
- Is Cryptocurrency a Good Investment? | The Motley Fool
582: Robert Greene | The Daily Laws Part Two
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Special thanks to our sponsor Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky. For the next few weeks and for the past few weeks, you've heard me talk about Glenfiddich, that highly recognizable stag icon. That is now on our show art. They've got a new body of work that challenges the traditional norms portrayed in our culture, of what it means to be wealthy and live a life of riches. You hear that, Rick Ross. Glenfiddich believes that beyond the material, a life of wealth and riches is also about family, community, values, and fulfilling work. These are the values that led Glenfiddich to become the world's leading single malt scotch whisky. This week's guest Robert Greene exemplifies these values. You'll find out why later on in the episode. More from our partners at Glenfiddich coming up later in the show.
[00:00:36] Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:39] Robert Greene: But I talk about the conviction bias, which is if somebody talks with so much conviction, so much anger, so much emotion, so much righteousness, we tend to think that there's something real about it. They wouldn't be faking these emotions. Therefore, there must be something true to what they say. And this is what makes people on television multi-millionaires. The angrier they appear, the more truthful they must be and the more audience people will reach because we have a propensity to want to have our emotions stirred, to want somebody who appeals to them, and we want to believe someone who kind of spews the anger that we're not necessarily comfortable with expressing.
[00:01:29] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we code the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with people at the top of their game, astronauts, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional billionaire investor, national security advisor, or a former Jihadi. Each episode turns our guests' wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better critical thinker.
[00:01:55] Now, if you're new to the show or you're looking for a way to tell your friends about it, our starter packs are a good way to do that. These are collections of top episodes organized by topic. That'll help new listeners get a taste of everything we do here on the show. jordanharbinger.com/start has them and we've got Spotify playlist on there as well. For those of you that use Spotify, you can just click it and it'll take you right to the list of episodes.
[00:02:16] Now, today, part two with Robert Greene, if you haven't heard part one yet, go back and listen to it. This is a continuation of that conversation.
[00:02:23] And if you're wondering how I managed to book all these amazing folks like Robert Greene, it's because of my network. And I'm teaching you how to build your network as well for free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig the well before you get thirsty. And by the way, most of the guests on the show, they subscribe and contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[00:02:43] Now, here's part two with Robert Greene.
[00:02:48] Retain the craftsman mindset, this is another concept from mastery/The Daily Laws. The work is the only thing that matters is what you wrote. The idea that you give is, cultivate profound dissatisfaction with your work. I both love and hate that because of course we're always dissatisfied with our work and we want it to be better. But doesn't that kind of make you miserable in the process if you're never happy with what you create or are those two different things?
[00:03:11] Robert Greene: The mistake that most people make in building something — so, first of all, I want you to think of yourself as a builder. You're literally building a house or a table or whatever it is. So that's starting your own business, that's writing a book, that's working on some project in your office. Think of it, like you're literally building something with your hands. It has to have a foundation. It has to be on something solid. It has to stand up. It has to look reasonably symmetrical, et cetera. So you're actually like a craftsman. So use that kind of mindset because it's a very powerful, very human mindset because we are natural builders. That's what makes us kind of human and powerful.
[00:03:53] So the problem that most people have, and believe me, I know it, when you're writing something or working on a project is you have no distance. You have no ability to analyze your own work. You think that everything you do is just golden and beautiful, or you think everything you do is awful or terrible, right?
[00:04:13] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:04:13] Robert Greene: So you can have other people look at it and who can kind of bring you back to reality and say, "This is what's working. What isn't working," but oftentimes you can't trust other people, right? First of all, maybe they don't really know. Maybe they're not as knowledgeable on the subject. And also they might have a political ax to grind or whatever. So you have to become your own critic. You have to be able to see the flaws and what isn't working in your own creation. And sometimes, you know, it's very hard to do that. You tend to kind of gloss over the things that aren't working.
[00:04:45] I know when I write a chapter, I lose perspective after time because I've spent so long on it that everything seems natural and good to me. And then when I come back to it a month later, it goes, no, that's not working well with us, not working at all. And so that critical voice inside of me that says that isn't working is what pushes me to make something better and better and better and better. Or you can go crazy with that. You could even reach a point where you never end up finishing whatever you're making, because you're always criticizing it. At some point, you have to say, "It's done, it's 95 percent there. I'm never going to get to a hundred percent." Okay, that's fine. I understand that.
[00:05:24] But to the degree that you're able to look at your own work with some distance and say, "This isn't working for me, it could be better," is what's going to end up making it better, right? And so a lot of people have a hard time with that. I get that a lot when I read other people's books or manuscripts, et cetera. It kind of works but God, this could be so much better. You didn't take the time. You didn't go through the process of just describing it. You didn't think of how somebody else would read it, how outside eyes would read it. You didn't think of what might be boring. You assume that everyone's going to be interested in something that they're not going to be interested in. So take the time and learn how to criticize your own work and make it better and better and better. It's extremely important.
[00:06:10] Jordan Harbinger: It seems like there's a point of diminishing returns when it comes to this. For example, I'll listen to an episode that's three years older, two years older, and I'll go, "Okay, there's a couple of missed opportunities." I used to listen and go, "Ah, cringe. This is awful. Why did I release this?" Now, I listen and I go, "Okay, there's a couple of things I could have changed or added," or "Man, our audio quality has improved a lot since then," something along those lines.
[00:06:32] I remember hearing about, I think it was David Letterman who used to watch tape of every show he did until three or 4:00 a.m. just beating himself up and treating himself like crap. Was his show five days a week? I mean, that's a lot of time to spend, telling yourself that you suck at your job and beating yourself up over every little opportunity or missed opportunity.
[00:06:50] Robert Greene: Well, that's not at all what I'm talking about.
[00:06:52] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. Yeah. It's different.
[00:06:54] Robert Greene: Okay. So after I finish a book, I never read it again, I never look at it again.
[00:06:59] Jordan Harbinger: Really?
[00:06:59] Robert Greene: I have no desire to look at it again. In fact, it kind of repulses me.
[00:07:03] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny.
[00:07:04] Robert Greene: I created it. Get out of me. I don't want to look at it. I'm onto the next thing. So there's no point in the postmortem — there is a point in things that you've done in life and your interactions with people to go through that kind of post-mortem process to go, "What could I have done differently that didn't create this particular problem?" I highly advised that. So if you had a podcast that got you in trouble and go through that post-mortem process to see what you might've done, that caused it and so you can learn the lesson. It's extremely important, but that's different from going back and criticizing a podcast that's already been created and it's out there. What value are you going to get? You're just going to be beating up on yourself, as you say. I mean, you could look at it constructively and say, "You know, I could be doing it a little bit better," right? It's all in the spirit that you do things in, so you could improve yourself.
[00:07:58] My thing with my work is once the book is published, there's nothing I can do about it, right?
[00:08:03] Jordan Harbinger: It's true.
[00:08:04] Robert Greene: It's out there. And in the process of writing, I've kind of learned already what it was that I didn't do quite right and what I could improve on. So the idea is to get — I think, the essence of what we're talking here is, the point is to beat up on yourself, the point isn't to make you feel bad about your own work, because I don't work against you. You have to kind of love and have a sense of excitement about the work itself. The idea is that you're able to kind of have some detachment from it. At certain key moments, you're able to look at it from a distance and to look at Jordan Harbinger on the screen and say, "He needs to be doing this a little differently," as if you're looking at it from the outside. It's a very, very powerful skill. So the goal isn't to become so critical of yourself, that you can't ever do anything in life. You need to have a degree of innocence about it, but if you have no voice inside of your head telling you that some things aren't really working, a voice that's somewhat like an outsider, then you're never going to be able to improve your work from the inside.
[00:09:07] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, this is something that I think a lot of creators struggle with, because also as much as you want to have external critics or cultivate your own critical eye, it is for many of us hard to do without beating ourselves up or without attaching some sort of meaning to it. But that's not productive to do.
[00:09:25] Robert Greene: I guess I don't understand that. Maybe I am, because I'm Jewish. I always kind of criticize myself.
[00:09:32] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. How can you not do it?
[00:09:34] Robert Greene: It's sort of beaten into me, but when I'm writing something, I never get too attached to what I'm writing. Because I know that's really dangerous. Maybe it's because this is my eighth book that I'm working on right now. Maybe I've learned that.
[00:09:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:09:50] Robert Greene: But I never get too attached to it because I know that that's going to be very problematic down the road. And I always know, in the moment, after I've written something, that's very arduous and I go back to and I go, "This isn't working. Yeah. It's painful, undoubtedly," because we're all kind of lazy by nature. We tied the ribbon, we finished the screenplay. We did the project. It's over. I want to move on, right? That's natural.
[00:10:15] Jordan Harbinger: It's like Johnny Depp, not watching his own movies, right?
[00:10:18] Robert Greene: Right. But you don't want to rush to the end because you know, things can always get better. And your natural tendency is to be in a hurry because you want the product out there. You want all the accolades, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. But if you develop this voice, you're able to look at it with some detachment, it ends up becoming kind of an interesting game where you feel like I can always make something better, better, better, better. It's kind of a very satisfying feeling to improve something.
[00:10:47] And to be able to say that my first iteration was kind of weak and I've really strained it right now, as opposed to sending it out there early. And then you have a little bit of doubt and then it isn't quite clicking together and people start criticizing it.
[00:11:02] Jordan Harbinger: This dovetails nicely with our section here on self-sabotage that I'd love to go and do. This is from, I think, The Laws of Human Nature. The attitude is if we are fearful, we see negative in every circumstance. We don't take chances. We blame others for mistakes. If we are suspicious or negative, we make others feel those same emotions. Then we create those outcomes for ourselves at home and at work. There's a lot in here. That's not your exact wording, I don't think, but the idea that we can almost project our own insecurities onto other people and then have it come back at us. And then it looks to us like they're causing the problem. This is an eye opening moment for, I think, a lot of people when they realize this is the case.
[00:11:43] Robert Greene: Well, I can illustrate it with a very simple example. You're at a party and somebody comes up to you, you haven't met before, or you go up to them and they're kind of nervous and insecure, and they’re kind of sweating a lot. And their eyes are kind of blinking a lot. You find yourself getting very nervous in their presence, right?
[00:12:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:12:04] Robert Greene: You've started feeling a bit insecure. "Maybe I'm causing that reaction." And that is, "I get insecure in their presence and my talking gets a little halting." The insecure person gets even more insecure. Like, "This person isn't really interacting with me. I might do—"
[00:12:19] Jordan Harbinger: Weird around me.
[00:12:20] Robert Greene: Yeah. And then it gets back and forth, back and forth. It gets worse and worse and worse. Or the opposite happens. You go up to that person. They're very confident. They're very secure in themselves. They're very calm. They have a calm energy. It just calms you down and the conversation that ensues flows in this very natural, easy way. And then that person feels that you're kind of engaging. They engage more on and on and on and on.
[00:12:45] So the idea is, is that we, humans, operate on a level that we're not aware of, which is on a nonverbal level, right? So we pick up the attitude, the vibrations to use a '70s term—
[00:12:58] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, man, groovy.
[00:12:59] Robert Greene: From the year on my wave. You hear me?
[00:13:02] Jordan Harbinger: I'm like your wavelength.
[00:13:03] Robert Greene: Okay. We've picked those up from the other person in ways we're not even aware of and it influences how we are. So in your attitude towards life, you have an attitude and I call it the way you look at the world, it's a lens, that attitude could be complex, but it usually has a single dominant component. It could be anxious. You're anxious about everything, worried. It could be insecure. People are looking at me strange, do people like me, et cetera.
[00:13:29] Jordan Harbinger: I think I have all of those so far.
[00:13:31] Robert Greene: I hope not. Or your attitude can be very adventurous. Everything seems exciting to me. I want to explore there. I want to go there. You're very open to things. So when you have that attitude, it goes out in the world, people sense in a non-verbal way, in that animal way. They feel it off of you, right? And that it makes them respond in a certain way. And so if you have that anxious attitude, you're going to create all kinds of situations that are going to feed your anxiety. It becomes what I talk about in that chapter, a self-fulfilling prophecy.
[00:14:07] You're going to find anxiety at every corner that you come upon. Because you're nervous, you're making other people nervous. You're supposed to take action. You hesitate. And then it doesn't go very well. Because you hesitated, that makes you more nervous, et cetera. So you have to get the idea that you are sabotaging yourself with your attitude, right? And they've been some amazing books written on this aspect of human psychology that actually were kind of mind blowing to me.
[00:14:36] I use another '70s expression. Sorry, man.
[00:14:38] Jordan Harbinger: We still use that one.
[00:14:39] Robert Greene: Okay. All right. Things like the Pygmalion Effect, which I hope in the next 20, 30, 40 years, people study more seriously in sciences and explain. But the idea is, it studies like teachers in schools. If a teacher thinks that the students are good and smart and deserving to go to Yale and Harvard and they're all brilliant, but never says anything about that. It's just that they think that it has an effect where the students work better. They get better grades. They're more excited. The attitude speaks to them. They feel it. So if you go up to somebody and you already anticipate that they're not very good, that they're not going to succeed in life, it's going to create that feeling in them. So you have the power to make people feel a certain way by the attitude that you have. The bad news is you were born with an attitude. There's a genetic component to it.
[00:15:32] Jordan Harbinger: My kid is really careful, way more careful than me.
[00:15:35] Robert Greene: Yeah. And that's something wired into him or her.
[00:15:38] Jordan Harbinger: Him. Soon to be a "her" in the picture, but, yeah, we're talking about Jayden. He's the most careful baby at the park. He's very — "Look, is this stable?" And I know that's not exactly what you're talking about, but—
[00:15:49] Robert Greene: No.
[00:15:50] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, the hard—
[00:15:50] Robert Greene: It is
[00:15:50] Jordan Harbinger: —wiring is there.
[00:15:51] Robert Greene: Well, the classic example is an introvert or an extrovert. And the man who came up with that was Carl Jung, the great psychologist. He believed that there was definitely a genetic component in that. That people are born with a tendency to be an introvert or born as an extrovert. And naturally the parent will have an influence on that, but that is very deeply ingrained into you, that attitude. So that's the bad news, right? That you're born a certain way. If you're anxious, you're born with an anxious attitude. The good news is that you can change it. It's plastic. You can work around the edges, you can soften it. You can make it better. If you're anxious, you're not going to suddenly become this open adventure exploring type person. Okay, but you can become less anxious. You can realize it's causing you problems, and then you can work kind of to alter this attitude, right?
[00:16:41] So the first thing is you have to be aware of what your attitude is and the problem that it's causing and how it's affecting your relationships. And the second thing is to be aware of how you can take small steps to slowly begin to alter this attitude. So I tell people, for instance, who are born very anxious, and I understand that, cause I have a bit of that myself.
[00:17:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:17:02] Robert Greene: It doesn't paralyze me, but for some people that paralyzes them. What I suggest is tomorrow you do something that you're not quite comfortable with. Not too radical. You're not suddenly going to go out naked in the streets, running, et cetera. You can do that normally, that's a little bit outside your comfort zone. It's a little bit different from what you would normally do. Let's say that's going up to a stranger in the office or social affairs and engaging them in conversation. "No way. I can't do that." Do it. All right. And you'll find — so explore those margins of what you wouldn't normally do, that aren't dangerous. That person isn't going to kill you, hopefully, for going up to them, but try these things out. They're going to be able to see though, "I don't need to be so anxious," and that by being open and wanting to talk to this stranger, they started talking to me in a level I've never experienced before. It's exciting, right? So your attitude is like your work of art. It's something you create, you're born with it, but you can change it. It's the power that you have.
[00:18:03] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. And I think you said this earlier in the show that it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's almost like if you expect someone to disappoint you. There's a higher chance of that happening. It's not metaphysical or something like that.
[00:18:16] Robert Greene: No not at all.
[00:18:16] Jordan Harbinger: It's not some sort of magic, but it's simply how you create the — I'm trying so hard not to use the word energy because it sounds metaphysical, but you're creating that environment around you.
[00:18:27] Robert Greene: You're creating the vibes.
[00:18:28] Jordan Harbinger: The vibes. That's very scientific, yes.
[00:18:31] Robert Greene: The one example I thought that was really weird in the book that I thought was so interesting. It's this woman, it's a story of a woman who had a boss who was kind of abusive and was always criticizing her. And it's just she didn't know how to react. No matter how she reacted, he only got worse and worse and worse. And a psychologist told her, "So when you go into work, think of him as this great guy." "No, I can't do that." "Just listen to me, just go in there and think in your head, he's actually a wonderful person. He's got some problems, some issues, but he's actually a really interesting person. He's very complex." She said, "What do you mean? "Just do it." She did it. And suddenly he reacted in a way she had never expected before. He was kind of put off by it because he noticed she was acting different. He acted different in there. I thought this was really interesting. She never said anything. She only thought it. And this wasn't a 14-year-old student. This was like a 40-year-old boss. He suddenly went on a different track because he detected something.
[00:19:32] You have a look of disbelief on you.
[00:19:34] Jordan Harbinger: I just feel like — it's not disbelief. It's actually, I know that this would work on me if we're using it as a technique. I know if somebody came with a totally different type of — to use your scientific lingo — vibe with me, that it would completely change the way that I react to them. Like as much as I like to think, and a lot of us like to think, "Oh, I'm just saying, I'm the way that I am." I know 100 percent that this would have an effect on me.
[00:19:55] Robert Greene: Yeah.
[00:19:55] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:19:55] Robert Greene: Okay.
[00:19:56] Jordan Harbinger: So I think it's a look of complete agreement and instead of just disbelief—
[00:20:00] Robert Greene: Oh I read you wrong.
[00:20:00] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. Yeah, maybe you need to read more of your own books—
[00:20:03] Robert Greene: Maybe I do.
[00:20:04] Jordan Harbinger: —but then, you would never want to do that.
[00:20:05] Robert Greene: No I don't.
[00:20:09] Jordan Harbinger: You do mention becoming aware of our own attitude and observing it and this seems useful. I think one of the reasons you give or the rationale you give for this is, do we instinctively blame others for things? How do we react when challenged? How do we judge and think of people when they're not around? This seems like a great way to reprogram a lot of negative behavior. If I'm the person that says, "Man, Ryan came over to film and he was late. That guy, his whole life is a mess," right? And we all know people that do that kind of thing. We don't want to be around them. They're annoying to work with. It pays for us if we are that person to nix that stuff, as soon as possible. How do we observe our own attitude? That seems easier said than done.
[00:20:50] Robert Greene: Well, first of all, you kind of notice you have an overall tenor or an overall mood to you, right? So if you are an anxious person, it's pretty obvious you don't need like Sherlock Holmes to kind of decipher that for you, right? When something new or novel comes up, your first reaction isn't "Wow. I'm excited," it's, "Oh, no, I'm nervous. This makes me uncomfortable." How you react to things in general way in a kind of a neutral circumstance, right? So you're thrown into some novel situation. You find yourself in a foreign city. Is your first instinct to take all your clothes out and go exploring and finding everything there and getting away from Americans and seeing what the culture is? Or is it to kind of stay in your hotel room and kind of watch American television or things like that. In certain patterns in your life, how you react to things that are different or new will be extremely telling to whether you're an introvert, whether you're an extrovert, whether you're anxious, whether you're adventurous on and on and on.
[00:21:56] So observe yourself in kind of these key moments. I don't think it's rocket science. I think it's pretty clear. I know for instance, that I am an introvert. That my tendency is to, I'm more on the shy side, although I've learned to kind of overcome that. And I see that in my social interactions.
[00:22:15] So, you know, you might think in your apartment building when you're alone, that you are Napoleon Bonaparte. You're so bold, so adventure, so exciting, so dashing. Then the moment you go out in the world, it's extremely different. You realize your weaknesses, your limitations. So being out interacting with people is going to reveal 100 percent your attitude towards life because you can't control it. In your room, you could be Walter Mitty. You could be imagining yourself as anything out there. But when you're with people, it becomes very clear that you're shy or that you're extroverted that you're out there wanting to engage with people.
[00:22:52] So the key to discovering your attitude is to see how you are with people, how you interact. So, if somebody new approaches you like that scenario, I said earlier, is your first reaction, "Oh no. Get away from me," or, "An interesting person, somebody new to meet," right? Those are very clear signs of what your attitude is. I mean, there are other things as well, how you respond to criticism from other people.
[00:23:22] Jordan Harbinger: Get defensive, tear them down privately in my own mind.
[00:23:26] Robert Greene: Right. That's your reaction?
[00:23:27] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. Is that healthy?
[00:23:30] Robert Greene: No. So the other reaction—
[00:23:32] Jordan Harbinger: You didn't mince the words at all.
[00:23:33] Robert Greene: Sorry. Sorry, Jordan.
[00:23:37] The other reaction is, "They're right. I'm a worthless worm. That's how awful I am." Okay, that's another kind of reaction. Or the third reaction is, "Hmm, there's something interesting there. I could learn from that. Maybe there's truth to it. Maybe I have to take it seriously." You have to look at the person, making the criticism and see, and judge whether they have a valid point or whether they have no political ax to grind.
[00:24:04] I can remember when I was about 24 years old, I was in New York working as a journalist. I thought it was a hot shot journalist,
[00:24:12] Jordan Harbinger: Sure, New York journalists, 24. It all adds out.
[00:24:17] Robert Greene: Okay. I wrote this article about, it was kind of for a travel magazine that I was working for, or this travel article about Italy, about the Amalfi Coast. I thought it was the greatest thing since Gore Vidal. I was, "Wow." And then the editor invited me for lunch. Okay.
[00:24:34] I'm getting promoted.
[00:24:35] Yeah. Right. And then after his like third martini or whatever he was drinking, he goes, "Robert, you are not a writer. You are not writer material. That article was all over the place. You have no discipline. Your language is going in all directions. You're not connecting to the audience, to the reader. If I were you, and I don't mean this harsh, I would go to law school or business school and I would get out of writing."
[00:25:03] Jordan Harbinger: Oh my god, I'm cringing for you. And this is like years, decades later.
[00:25:07] Robert Greene: Yeah.
[00:25:07] Jordan Harbinger: It's hard to hear.
[00:25:09] Robert Greene: I was trying to remember the name of this guy the other day but, I can't remember his name. I could see him very clearly. And I had this image in my mind that's very vivid.
[00:25:16] Jordan Harbinger: I mean, look, if he has three martinis at lunch, he's dead already. So it doesn't matter.
[00:25:21] Robert Greene: So the image that played in my mind was like a house that on the outside kind of looks good. But if you looked at the attic and the interior, you'd see that the wood is all rotten and the termites have kind of eaten away and things are about to fall. That was the image that came into my mind, what was going on inside of this man. But afterwards, I was very obviously pained by it. I thought, "What an asshole he's wrong." Then as time went by, I processed and then go, "No, there's truth to what he was saying. I don't really like journalism." And because I don't really like, and they don't really fit, my language is a little bit odd for the genre. It was a little too literary, what I had written. Maybe I was meant to be a novelist or a screenwriter to write something else. So there was validity in what he said, and I got out of journalism and I decided I'm going to go to Europe. And I'm going to wander around and I'm going to write a novel kind of thing. And then that ended up failing.
[00:26:16] Jordan Harbinger: Well, yeah, you ended up working in construction in the home or the hospital.
[00:26:20] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Robert Greene. We'll be right back.
[00:26:27] This episode is sponsored in part by Blue Nile. Getting ready to pop the question, got a special occasion coming up? Whether you're customizing an engagement ring or designing diamond stud earrings at bluenile.com. With more than 200,000 ethically sourced, GIA-graded diamonds, in every shape and size with an endless selection of — trust me, it's endless. You're going to spend a long time looking at these things, but they make it easy. And they'll do it at a price you won't find at a traditional jeweler. I sent Jen a special gift, which she wears more than her wedding ring, I might add. I ordered the one-carat, total weight, diamond eternity ring that showcases a full circle of round brilliant cut diamonds, set in polished 14-carat white gold, not bad, if I do say so myself, I thought I knew what I was doing, but came across a ton of questions along the way. Blue Nile's jewelry experts were available online to chat and were so helpful with my probably kind of dumb, basic ass questions.
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[00:27:35] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored by Everlane. Denim will always remain in our closets as a classic that can be paired with anything and lasts forever. Everlane's four-way stretch denim will give you confidence in doing motions like squats to other motions, like your upcoming Thanksgiving feast. Those are the motions I'm looking forward to. Furthermore, Everlane's uniform collection has a 365-day guarantee. Everlane is so confident in their uniform collection that in the unlikely event, your jeans get a hole or a tear, they'll gladly replace them with a new pair. Maybe you did some squats after you ate that Turkey because I should have warned you. Everlane is also amazing to our health and the environment. They use organic cotton, which is better for the planet, safer for workers. Their denim factory recycles 98 percent of their water, keeps byproducts out of the environment and uses renewable energy and air drying to reduce CO2 emissions by 80 percent, Everlane is one of the first companies to make denim that feels great, and doesn't dirty the planet. Pretty cool.
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[00:28:59] And don't forget, we have worksheets for many episodes. If you want some of the drills the exercises talked about during the episodes of the show, those are all in one easy place as well. That link is in the show notes, jordanharbinger.com/podcast.
[00:29:12] Now back to Robert Greene. I mean, look, if the guy needed — and I made a dark joke earlier, but it sounds like he was, he needed three martinis to break bad news to you. He actually was probably a really nice person for doing that. He didn't want to do that. He did it for your sake.
[00:29:25] Robert Greene: Probably.
[00:29:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:26] Robert Greene: Yeah, but I didn't take his advice to heartbeat.
[00:29:29] Jordan Harbinger: Now you're a writer. So I guess he failed.
[00:29:30] Robert Greene: Because I knew that I had something there. It's just, I was in the wrong—
[00:29:35] Jordan Harbinger: Genre.
[00:29:35] Robert Greene: —genre.
[00:29:36] Jordan Harbinger: Writing insufferable articles about the Amalfi Coast.
[00:29:39] Robert Greene: Oh, yeah.
[00:29:40] Jordan Harbinger: Let's talk demagogues. I mean, I told people the show is going to be all over the place. Demagogues, this is, unfortunately, according to my Feedback Friday inbox, half the nation is working for a demagogue. There's demagogues and every level of politics from the police all the way up to the White House, depending on who you ask, right? I think this might be useful whether we have one in the office or whether we're electing them to office. "When in the presence of a demagogue focus on the rational, even more, to avoid their emotional pole," is what you say in the beginning of this particular section. This is very profound, but it also sort of implies — well, it does imply that demagogues use emotional pull to, would you say? influence us or control us?
[00:30:26] Robert Greene: Well, yeah, I think that's fairly obvious there. I mean—
[00:30:29] Jordan Harbinger: You don't have to call that thing out. That makes me sound less intelligent.
[00:30:35] Robert Greene: Okay. Captain Obvious, I'm just kidding. I'm just kidding.
[00:30:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah — no, it's true. It's true. All I did was rephrase something and I'm supposed people go, "Wow, Jordan, really? He understands the things that he looks at.
[00:30:46] Robert Greene: Well, Jordan, that was really, you really understand me.
[00:30:49] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I really do. Read carefully, so, yes, the obvious that demagogues thrive on the emotional pull that they have over for us.
[00:30:56] Robert Greene: Well, I mean the obvious element is they're not appealing to us through reason.
[00:31:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:31:01] Robert Greene: So in The Laws of Human Nature, I have a chapter on irrationality, it's chapter one, and they talk that we humans have certain irrational biases built into our brains. And one of them obviously is the confirmation bias that everyone knows about. But I talk about the conviction bias, which is if somebody talks with so much conviction, so much anger, so much emotion, so much righteousness, we tend to think that there's something real about it. They wouldn't be faking these emotions. Therefore, there must be something true to what they say. And this is what makes people on television multi-millionaires. The angrier they appear, the more truthful they must be and the more audience people will reach because we have a propensity to want to have our emotion stirred, to want somebody who appeals to them, and we want to believe someone who kind of spews the anger that we're not necessarily comfortable with expressing, right?
[00:32:02] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. We see this on the extreme-left and extreme-right on television, because then there are shows where they're yelling at each other and that's all they're doing. Or someone says, "Can you believe these idiots are doing this and this and this." And it's just a bunch of people at home going, "Yeah. I hate that. They're the worst."
[00:32:17] Robert Greene: Yeah. I mean the person, I think, who really does that is like Tucker Carlson.
[00:32:21] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:32:21] Robert Greene: I'm not going to, you know, go political here on you because there are people on the left who do it as well.
[00:32:25] Jordan Harbinger: They are.
[00:32:26] Robert Greene: Sure.
[00:32:26] Jordan Harbinger: To be fair.
[00:32:27] Robert Greene: You know, Chris Cuomo can be a little bit like that, but Tucker Carlson. He's like his snark, his disdain, anger, his vitriol is what people love. That's what makes them tune in. And they assume that he must be telling the truth because there's so much conviction behind it. So as opposed to a professor who gets up there in a very calm demeanor and sort of explains what's really going on in the world going, "Ah, what an egghead, you know, he's got some ax to grind because he went to Harvard or something."
[00:32:59] Jordan Harbinger: He's an elitist.
[00:33:00] Robert Greene: He's an elitist. Exactly. Thank you. Okay. So we are wired to have our emotions appealed to us. It's part of our nature. Because we are at heart emotional animals. Emotions — to give you a very brief physiological lesson. When you feel an emotion like anger, frustration, or excitement, hormones or really chemicals are released into your bloodstream that are very powerful. The cortex, the frontal cortex, where your thinking goes on, those are like little electrical impulses that are not nearly as strong as those hormones that are charging through you, making your adrenaline pump. Right?
[00:33:37] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I rarely get fired up about like logical — math problems or something like that would never get me sort of charged up, having to do my math homework instead of watching a movie or a show that I wanted to—
[00:33:49] Robert Greene: Right.
[00:33:50] Jordan Harbinger: That triggers that cortisol or whatever it is, adrenaline reaction.
[00:33:54] Robert Greene: By nature we're wired to pay attention to our emotions, whereas our thoughts. Yeah. We kind of listen to them, but when we feel something, it engages so much of our body physically that we have to pay attention to it. So we are emotional creatures by nature. We are not these rational thinking animals that we like to believe that we are. And people who do marketing and PR, they know that we are emotional creatures. They know how to appeal to the animal in us. It's an art that they have developed that they have honed. They call it the affect heuristics. People buy things based on their emotions, not based on rational decisions.
[00:34:33] Jordan Harbinger: Are you saying I didn't need the upgraded camera in the iPhone 13 Pro Max? Are you sure about that?
[00:34:39] Robert Greene: Well, it was probably some ad that you saw or some, yeah, it probably wasn't a rational decision is what I'm trying to say.
[00:34:46] Jordan Harbinger: No, completely irrational.
[00:34:48] Robert Greene: Yeah. So get over the idea that you're a rational being you're very emotional based and a political figure in any walk of life or your boss or whatever, if they're like always emoting and they're like out there expressing something with so much conviction and anger and righteousness, you can believe that they're hiding something. They're trying to convince themselves of the truth of what they're saying. They're trying to lie to themselves. That what they're saying is true, but by putting on that act, that extra bit of anger, et cetera, right? So con artists have always known since the beginning of con artistry, that the more you feel sincere, the more you tell people, believe in what you're selling is like gold. You have a gold mine or that you're selling the Eiffel Tower, the more people are likely to believe you.
[00:35:39] So I just want people to be more skeptical in this world when someone is spewing all kinds of emotions. And I've noticed in our age now that social media age, that you see a lot of righteousness. The people are seeing, "I am so right about the cause I believe in." It gives—
[00:35:57] Jordan Harbinger: Outrage.
[00:35:58] Robert Greene: —outrage. "It gives me license to say whatever I want to be as angry and violent as I want to, because I'm on the side of truth." You see it a lot nowadays. I want you to be super skeptical to people like that. They're probably hiding something. They're feeling very insecure about the subject. They may very well be lying about it. You want to have some distance and be able to analyze what they're saying with some degree of rationality and some degree of detachment.
[00:36:25] Jordan Harbinger: Yes. You say the emotional self thrives on ignorance. What these people require is for us to not stop and think about not having any sort of skeptical bone in our body, but to go, "Yeah," then blindly follow with whatever they're asserting.
[00:36:39] Robert Greene: Exactly.
[00:36:40] Jordan Harbinger: You said once we become aware of this, it loses its pull. So awareness being like group bias, insecurity — ego is the greatest danger here, I think, is something that either you or I noted. And not the ego of the person telling you what to do, but the ego that might say, "Maybe I just got, worked up and I'm wrong about this."
[00:36:59] Robert Greene: Well, that's the confirmation bias. And it's something sociologists said, determines like 95 percent of human behavior.
[00:37:07] Jordan Harbinger: Really? That much?
[00:37:08] Robert Greene: Well, I just pulled that.
[00:37:10] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, you just made that up.
[00:37:11] Robert Greene: I don't know why.
[00:37:13] Jordan Harbinger: I was like, that's a huge, that's a large majority.
[00:37:16] Robert Greene: But it's a high, higher than you think. Let's just say that. So what happens is if you believe something, once, if you voted for this particular person, once, right? And then evidence comes in that they're not who they said they were, that there they're a hypocrite, that they're deceptive, et cetera, your propensity is not to believe what other people are telling you, but to double down on your original attitude and say, "The person telling me this has an ax to grind. They're being political. It's their fault."
[00:37:48] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:37:48] Robert Greene: I was right in my choice. The reason for confirmation bias is you never want to believe that you were stupid. You never want to believe that you were conned, that somebody pulled the wool over your eyes, that you are not rational, that you did not come to your decision based on proper analysis. So you're wired, you have the bias already to believe what you already believe in to believe in what you want to believe in. So you're going to look for the evidence that confirms what you've already believed. And trust me, it does motivate a huge percentage of people's behavior. It makes it why you don't want to change what you're already doing, because to change what you're doing is to change your way of thinking. And to admit that you were wrong, that you did something kind of stupid, or that you were going in the wrong direction, it's very, very hard for humans to do that.
[00:38:38] Jordan Harbinger: I think you're right. I mean, we see this happening all the time and when it comes to the news or politics or anything like that, nobody wants to turn around and go, "Yeah, I did that. And that was wrong. And there were profound consequences," especially if there were profound consequences for themselves or others.
[00:38:55] How do we balance the need to be rational, cautious, skeptical with the benefits of being curious and open-minded to new ideas?
[00:39:02] Robert Greene: Well, so you can be too rational. You can be too cautious. You can be too logical in your attitude towards life. So the metaphor that I like to use is something I talk in The Daily Laws and in my books is of—
[00:39:17] Jordan Harbinger: Don't worry we'll link to your books in the show notes. We're going to sell those books
[00:39:20] Robert Greene: Am I doing it too much?
[00:39:21] Jordan Harbinger: No. It's probably the first time. I'm just giving you a hard time. I had to pay you back for the Captain Obvious comment earlier. That hopefully made—
[00:39:29] Robert Greene: I deserve it.
[00:39:30] Jordan Harbinger: Yes.
[00:39:31] Robert Greene: The metaphor I use is of a horse and the person riding the horse. So I'm saying that the horse is your emotional self. It's all that animal energy. It's those hormones coursing through you and making you excited or angry and et cetera. And the rider of that horse is your rational self. It's your frontal cortex, where your executive decisions, where you go through a rational process of coming to a decision about what needs to be done. So if you've ever ridden a horse, I did, when I was younger—
[00:40:04] Jordan Harbinger: It's very much, it's so much harder than it looks—
[00:40:07] Robert Greene: Yeah.
[00:40:07] Jordan Harbinger: If you remember that.
[00:40:08] Robert Greene: Yeah. Well, horses are very sensitive creatures. They pick up your energy very quickly. They can tell by the way, your legs are kind of hugging it, whether you're nervous or not. They're very, very sensitive. So if they sense that you are not controlling them, that you're worried, that you're fearful, that you're kind of like, you know, you don't know how to control this horse, they're going to take control. They're going to be the alpha in the situation. They're going to go wherever they want to go. They're not going to listen to you because they don't think you have the stuff in you. You're not stern enough. And so you'll find that there'll be riding all over the place. They'll be going a lot faster than you want, and it can be very dangerous. But if you hold the reins too tightly, if you're the opposite type, where you're too much trying to control them, you're holding the bit in their mouth really tightly. You're trying to make sure that they only do exactly what you want, the horse isn't comfortable, right? It doesn't like that. I have been broken, but they have a wild streak to them, right? So they're either going to rebel. They're not going to go to sleep, do what you want, or they're going to go very slowly, et cetera. And you won't really be able to ride them with any kind of ease. They'll be very halting. They'll suddenly stop and chew the leaves on a plant when you want them to move ahead, et cetera.
[00:41:25] So the perfect balance to make this metaphor come to life is you want to have some hold on the reins, but you also want to let the animal have some of its own power because that horse is very powerful. Horses are amazingly powerful creatures. You want to be able to use their energy, to channel their energy for your own purposes, right? So think of your emotions as that horse, they contain incredible amounts of energy and power. You can't write a book, you can't start a business, you can't do anything in life if you don't have a degree of emotional energy behind it. You have to feel excited. You have to feel motivated. You have to want something very, very badly. If you're holding on the reins too tightly and trying to be too controlled and everything like that, you're never going to be able to get anything off the ground because you're not going to have any energy behind it.
[00:42:17] But if you let that go everywhere you want to, then nothing will get made because you won't be able to structure it. You won't be able to organize. You won't be able to discipline yourself. You won't be able to make executive decisions, say we got to do this instead of that. So you want to balance, right? So you don't want to be too rational, too controlling. You want to be able to let go of it sometimes and let your emotions lead you and be inspired, but be able to have some distance from them to know that you can pull it back. You can control it.
[00:42:47] Now, I forgot what your original question was.
[00:42:49] Jordan Harbinger: It was how do we balance the need to be rational, cautious, and skeptical with the benefits of being curious and open minded?
[00:42:56] Robert Greene: Yes. The curious and open-mindedness is that horse kind of exploring things and wanting to try new things out. So the idea of being curious and open is an emotional quality, right? You're not curious because of something going on in your frontal cortex, there's an excitement level that makes you curious about something. You're interested. There's an emotional component. You have to let go of that sometimes of the need to be so rational and so controlling. So in life, you have to know when to let go. You have to know when to let go of control and let things happen to you and let things come to you. If you try and control everything too much, then things won't happen. You won't have the space for surprises, for the unexpected. If you're a scientist, some of the best discoveries are things you never expected to plan for. It just happened upon you. And if you've already assessed what you think is going on, you're not going to be open to the new information that comes in. So the balance is in what I'm talking about. Know that being too rational will cause you problems. You won't be able to get anything done and you won't be able to explore with your ideas.
[00:44:13] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Robert Greene. We'll be right back.
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[00:46:14] Jordan Harbinger: This episode is also sponsored in part by Glenfiddich. Glenfiddich breaks from the single malt scotch whisky norm and helps redefine what it means to be rich. Defining the whole thing all over again. For me, I enjoy the simple pleasures, like the ability to do what I love for work. And Glenfiddich is something I've enjoyed for years, responsibly, of course. And they do not outsource any part of the production process. Unlike this show. Majority of whisky companies do that actually. It would save them a lot of costs if they did. Glenfiddich believes that controlling the process from distillation and maturation to bottling is essential to maintaining the highest quality and integrity of the whisky. My outsourcing improves quality. Shout out to the producer Jase and BobFogarty. It's no wonder that Glenfiddich is the number one selling single malt scotch whisky in the world.
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[00:47:03] Jordan Harbinger: And now for the rest of part two with Robert Greene.
[00:47:07] From a practical level, you mentioned that we should observe how people behave around others, how they interact, their emotions et cetera and compare that to how they behave towards you. Is there frustration, micro-expressions, anger, contempt? And then ask what reason there could be for this. So there's a lot of practicals in dealing with — all right, if I'm looking at how other people are acting, are they acting the same way around me? Are we looking for — I'm trying not to be sort of hyperbolic here. Are we looking for hidden enemies here? Are we looking for people to show their true colors? Because we know they'll have a facade up when they're talking to us, but maybe not with others.
[00:47:39] Robert Greene: Well, there could possibly be, but that's not really the point of this here. The point is to have access to information about what's really going on behind the facade, the mask people are wearing, and that might be totally benign. It might be that they do like you. It might be that they're not as interested as you as you think they are. But that doesn't mean they're going to go out and harm you in some way. It just means you think they're excited by your idea but they're not really so excited. So we all have this experience where in the presence of one person like our wife or a colleague or husband, we act a certain way. And then we're in the presence of someone else, we act totally differently, right? Because they have a different energy. So the way we talk and move and our body language in front of our boss is not the same as it is when we're talking with our child with a two year old, et cetera, with a younger, an older person like that.
[00:48:33] So we're continually changing who we are when we're in the presence of different people. So when you go up to someone they're responding to your energy. And some of it is coming from you and you can't really disentangle what is you and what is actually coming from them. But if you observe them with another person, you get better information, you get more dispassionate information. So you judge them with you there this way and that way, et cetera. But with this other person, they act totally differently, which is the real self. Well, you don't really know, but at least now you realize that what they were responding to you is only like a quarter of the picture. So you want to see how people interact in a variety of situations. It'll give you more clues as to what's really going on in their heads.
[00:49:25] Jordan Harbinger: Another practical is, train yourself to see past the front people put on. So this is sort of very similar, train yourself to see their mythology. Look for signs of their true character or true signs of their character. How do we do this?
[00:49:37] The example you give in the book is Howard Hughes. He was actually a terrible businessman, but yet most people think of him as this like brilliant creator. And meanwhile, he was, according to the Leonardo DiCaprio movie, peeing in bottles in a room, and made a plane that didn't fly or at least didn't fly well.
[00:49:55] Robert Greene: Well, the idea is that people have patterns in life, right? And the patterns reveal what I call their character and character is something very deeply ingrained in a person. It's that genetic component we talked about earlier. It's the early education part of them. It's something so deep inside that they can't control it and you have a character and I have a character. And what it does over time is it creates patterns. We end up falling into patterns in life, in our work world, in our personal relationships, et cetera. And you can see this over time. And that reveals that essence, that core, that we are often in a more negative light.
[00:50:36] And so Howard Hughes had this pattern of enticing people into this kind of business venture, because he was very ambitious, very grandiose, and then he wouldn't deliver and he wouldn't deliver for various reasons. One thing is he was an insane micromanager. He had to oversee every single detail of that plane, but he couldn't because he's only one person and he'd get overwhelmed with information and he'd become paralyzed and the project would never happen. He would be asked to build 200 enormous transport jets for the defense department. And he'd build only one, the Goose, or whatever the thing is.
[00:51:14] Jordan Harbinger: Spruce Goose, I think, is the name.
[00:51:16] Robert Greene: Yeah. Okay because he was so paralyzed with, he had to control everything, et cetera. It spilled over into when he was producing films, he directed films and he had the same mentality and each time it failed and yet people would not pay attention to those failures because they got sucked into the aura of Howard Hughes. This adventurer, this pilot who would risk his life doing things, which was true. He was very, almost reckless in his flying planes, et cetera. So they bought the legend of Howard Hughes. And they weren't seeing the reality that this man was an awful businessman. He was just a terrible businessman and the clues were all there. And yet they were falling for the appearance of this really smooth charismatic man. And it became comic by the end because he had four or five or six failures in his past. And still, he managed to convince people up until like the '50s or '60s to fund his wild projects.
[00:52:14] So the idea is to sum it all up, you stop paying attention to people's charm their presence, their facade, to how excited they are when you first meet them to their resume, to the fact that they went to Harvard, a Yale et cetera and look at their character, what lies underneath. So if you looked at Howard Hughes's character, you would have seen someone deeply insecure and deeply controlling to the point where he can never finish anything. And if you saw that you would've never signed on to one of his projects and lost millions of dollars, right?
[00:52:45] So people give signs of this. They give signs of their behavior. They give signs of the fact that they're not a team player. Character, I like to judge is either strong or weak. You want a strong character for a partner in intimate relations, for a business partner, for a colleague at work. A strong character can take criticism. That's the number one thing. The person who is strong inside can take criticism and can use it constructively. They don't become defensive. A strong person when they're stressed, they don't crumble and then suddenly become a whiny, little baby. They can handle it. They have a presence of mind. A strong person can work with other people. They're not dominated by their ego. They don't have to have everything on their own terms.
[00:53:31] A weak character is all the opposite of those traits. So you hire somebody based on their charm. Then you discover when there's stress that they crumble into pieces, right? You discover that when you criticize them, they get whiny and defensive, and they can't learn. You discover that they can't work together as a team. They only want to advance their own agenda. You learned that too late because they're already working for you.
[00:53:52] So judge them before you get involved with people, and I should talk to my books, but how there are always signs of what the underlying character is.
[00:54:01] Jordan Harbinger: And if people want more practicals about this, obviously in the books, which we'll link all of them in the show notes. We did an episode probably going on two, maybe even three years ago now, hard to say, which I'll also link in the show notes and that one is full of envy and jealousy and human nature and control and defense against it.
[00:54:18] Robert Greene: All that sexy stuff.
[00:54:18] Jordan Harbinger: All the dark side stuff, exactly. I will wrap on one final thing here. And now that we have cryptocurrency going crazy and people, the stock market is super high, many times — this is your idea here — many times we run on a reactive program. We get caught up in the moment. Perfect example, the crypto run the economy, even wise fall prey to this. "Oh, Bitcoin's at an all time high. Look at how high the Dao is going. We need to funnel more money into these things." We have to zoom out and take a longer view of time, but how do we do this? How do we zoom out? Even when we don't feel like it, which is really what's going on here. "I feel like buying more of that stock. That's going up. I feel like I need to get on the Bitcoin rocketship." Right? We have our FOMO, our fear of missing out is in full swing. How do I short circuit that? Because it's easy for me to say when Bitcoin is zero and the Dao's losing money that I need to not invest. It's really hard when I feel like I'm the only one who's missing out.
[00:55:19] Robert Greene: Well, I wrote a whole chapter in there about that. It's called short-sighted nature and I describe the phenomenon of bubbles, economic bubbles, and the original book. It's aptly named the South Sea Bubble and they narrate the story in the laws of human nature. This took place in the 1710s in England. And the idea behind it is that when other people are buying things or doing things, we're a viral creature. We're social animals. We're very much wrapped into what other people are doing. And we get caught up in that kind of herd mentality. If other people are buying something, they're excited, there must be a reason I don't want to miss out on it, right? And so this is what's behind a lot of Ponzi schemes, et cetera. The more people that get involved, the more, it seems like it's real and substantial.
[00:56:13] And so the South Sea Bubble was this kind of comic event. It was like the original Ponzi scheme. And Sir Isaac Newton was investing his life savings in the South Sea Bubble and he ended up losing like all of his savings in there. The king of England was putting his name behind it, the brother of the king. I can't remember which one it was.
[00:56:34] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. It's hard to say. I vaguely remember this from your work.
[00:56:37] Robert Greene: So everyone got caught up in the smartest people around and the stupidest people. So when you find yourself in a dynamic — this is part of human nature. It was the tulip mania.
[00:56:48] Jordan Harbinger: I was going to say, it's like the tulip mania, when people are buying tulips for the price of gold or something.
[00:56:53] Robert Greene: Yeah. In 17th century. You had the railroad mania in the 19th century. You had the tech bubble in the 1990s. You had the real estate bubble in the early 2000s. Who knows what the bubble is now, maybe it's cryptocurrency. I don't know. But when you find yourself and what motivates you is that other people are doing something, I have to get involved. Little red flags go up in your brain and go, "Uh-oh, probably this week part of human nature is getting involved here. I'm getting sucked into this dynamic where the social aspect of my nature is telling me that other people are doing something. It must be great. It must be interesting. I have to get." No, the moment you feel that that's happening. Step back.
[00:57:38] This is one situation when the rider and the horse, you want to be holding the reins a bit tighter because you know, your money, a lot of money could be at stake. So it's delicate thing. I mean, who knows in the beginning, whether cryptocurrency is real or not, maybe it is like the new thing it's going to, but when you hear people say that this time it's different. There's something new about cryptocurrency. Your bullsh*t meter must be go rise right up because that's language that every swindler has ever used. This is different. This is not like anything in the past. The rules of finance are being rewritten. You don't have to worry about it because this is totally new and different.
[00:58:17] That is a hundred percent bullsh*t, right? The rules of finance have not been rewritten. Bubbles exist, and they've been existing for hundreds of years because of human nature because of psychology and that's what's sucking you into it. And so you want to look, the classic bubble in our time was the one that led to the crash of '08, where all these people were involved in these complicated real estate derivatives, all these names that I can't even remember.
[00:58:43] Jordan Harbinger: That's what I was doing on wall street, mortgage backed securities.
[00:58:46] Robert Greene: Okay, yeah.
[00:58:46] Jordan Harbinger: And I remember thinking, "What happens if people can't pay their mortgage?" And the partner said, "Real estate always goes up. There's so many people in these pools. They're not all going to default.
[00:58:55] Robert Greene: Well, real estate does tend to go up, but this isn't real estate. This isn't bound to property. This is bound to things that were completely like financial chicanery. They only existed on paper, right? And the smartest minds in the world got caught up in that bubble. You can't believe the names of people who went to Harvard, Yale, business school, CEOs. They all got caught up in the idea that this time it's different, right? We've created a new kind of financial mechanism, the old rules, you can throw them out. The moment you hear that you know something is wrong. So all the signs, the classic signs, we've all lived through them if you're old enough. I don't know if the people that young who haven't, if your 12, maybe no, but if you're older than 12, you live through that crash and you know what really happened and that's the kind of herd mentality and kind of stupidity to put the right word on it that we all are prone to.
[00:59:50] And when you find yourself getting emotionally attached to Bitcoin, to the point where if someone so much has breathed, whispered something skeptical, you get all emotional reaction, "Oh, come on you old fuddy-duddy, you dinosaur, you don't understand the hipness. This is the new thing. You know, that you've, you're drinking the wine that you're drunk on this thing and you're in trouble.
[01:00:10] Jordan Harbinger: So it's not necessarily, if that there's not anything, to go on the Bitcoin metaphor, there's still innovation. There's still new things that result from this. It could change the world, but the idea that it is completely new and different and not subject to the laws that everything else has been subject to, there's nothing, we're not going to invent any machine on earth or in the universe, as we know it, that's not subject to gravity.
[01:00:31] Robert Greene: Well, the metaphor I've given in Human Nature is, human nature is so strong that it changes everything that we create. It's like this impersonal force. So just to finish this metaphor here, the Internet came out in the '90 and then it started to explode in the late '90s and we're all using it. And we're so excited. This forum for all this free communication, it's like the wild, wild west. It's so exciting. It can lead to anything and slowly, slowly — yeah, it will slowly, slowly, that's what it becomes. Slowly and slowly it becomes a place to sell the worst kind of products, become the place for online porn, becomes the place for venting your outrage and being a troll. Human nature changes this thing that we all thought was this liberating device that was going to open up the world into something kind of ugly and political, a tool for China to spy on people, to spy on its own citizens, to gather, and in this country too, to gather information on private citizens, right? So human nature, the dark side of it will take over.
[01:01:38] So Bitcoin might have started at this incredibly liberating thing, but you better damn well believe that the forces that are out there are going to take it over and it's going to be somehow misshaped and malformed into what other things have been misshapen for in the past, like the Internet.
[01:01:54] Jordan Harbinger: Well, definitely Bitcoin is decentralized and I'm going to get a lot of emails from people that are like, he's wrong and here's why, and I'm looking forward to those. And this is a great conversation.
[01:02:05] Robert Greene: Yeah.
[01:02:05] Jordan Harbinger: Thank you so much.
[01:02:06] Robert Greene: Well, I'm just saying you might be right, but the fact that you think you're so right, is the problem.
[01:02:11] Jordan Harbinger: Is the problem, right.
[01:02:11] Robert Greene: Just to be able to look at yourself and just entertain the possibility, entertain it in the tiniest little corner of your brain, that it could be a bubble. That's all, that's all. Don't hate me. Don't hate me.
[01:02:23] Jordan Harbinger: Too late.
[01:02:23] Robert Greene: I have invested a little bit in it.
[01:02:25] Jordan Harbinger: Canceled by Bitcoin and everybody else. Robert Greene, thank you so much.
[01:02:29] Robert Greene: Thank you, Jordan, my pleasure.
[01:02:32] Jordan Harbinger: If you're looking for another episode of The Jordan Harbinger Show to sink your teeth into, here's a trailer with our guest, Robert Greene.
[01:02:40] If we just sit in our inner tube with our hands behind her head and crack open a six pack of beer, the river of dark nature takes us towards that waterfall of the shadow.
[01:02:49] Robert Greene: Yeah. So when we're children, if we weren't educated, if we didn't have teachers or parents telling us to study, we'd be these monsters. We're all flawed. I believe we humans naturally feel, and it's the chimpanzee in us. It's been shown that primates are very attuned to other animals in their clan. And they're constantly comparing themselves. Your dislike of that fellow artist or that other podcaster 99 percent sure that it comes from a place of envy.
[01:03:21] Jordan Harbinger: For sure.
[01:03:22] Robert Greene: You are not a rational being. Rationality is something you earn. It's a struggle. It takes effort. It takes awareness. You have to go through steps. You have to see your biases. When you think you're being rational, you're not being rational at all. You go around, everything is personal. "Oh, why did he say that? Why is my mom telling me this?" And I'm telling you, it's not personal. That's the liberating fact. People are wrapped up in their own emotions, their own traumas. So you need to be aware that people have their own inner reality. People are not nearly as happy and successful as you think they are. Acknowledging that you have a dark side, that you have a shadow, that you're not such a great person as you think can actually be a very liberating feeling. And there are ways to take that shadow on that darkness and kind of turn it into something else.
[01:04:14] Jordan Harbinger: If you want to learn more about how to read others and even yourself, be sure to check out episode 117 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[01:04:23] Always, always an incredible show with Robert. I've got a ton more in my notes. We didn't even get to, as usual. Robert and I are planning another episode probably in 2022. We'll see how the pandemic works out and my travel schedule, but stay tuned for that.
[01:04:36] Knowing ourselves and especially knowing where we are weak or routinely manipulable is one of the best forms of psychological self-defense. And further, If we know how this is done, then we can spot when others are doing it to us and kick our defense systems into gear.
[01:04:53] Check out Robert's books, all of them are worth a read and then a reread. We will link those in the show notes. Please do use our website. If you buy books from guests on the show, it does help support the show. Yes, it works for audio books. Yes, it works in your country. We've got those genius links. Worksheets for the episodes are in the show notes. Transcripts are in the show notes. Videos on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on Twitter and Instagram. You can also hit me on LinkedIn. I always enjoy connecting with people there.
[01:05:20] Speaking of connecting, our Six-Minute Networking courses, where I'm teaching you how to dig the well before you get thirsty and it's free. There's no catch. Most of the guests on the show, subscribe and contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong again, jordanharbinger.com/course.
[01:05:36] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when he finds something useful or interesting. If you know a Robert Greene fan or somebody who could use his advice and/or the topics today would be interesting for them, share this episode with them. I hope you find something great in every episode of this show, please share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next.
[01:06:12] This episode is sponsored in part by Chinet. Chinet is a people-focused brand disguised as a premium disposable tableware brand. Chinet prides themselves on being part of authentic human connections and playing an important role in togetherness. They've been a part of American culture for over 90 years, providing durable plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, and table covers. Chinet is the go-to brand for cookouts, holidays, birthdays, game nights, baby showers, and more. Chinet believes that not only everyone should have a place around the table, but that everyone should be welcomed with open arms and a full cup. Chinet Classic, Chinet Crystal, and Chinet Comfort products are all made in the USA with at least 80 percent recycled materials. Chinet brands products can handle anything from the sauciest ribs to the most generous slices of cake. Made to be microwave safe and leftovers' best friend, easy cleanup, environmentally conscious. Great for the upcoming holiday gatherings and perfect for all of life's get-togethers. Visit mychinet.com to find out more.
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