New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!

New book from NYT bestselling author Lewis Howes is now available!


Robert Greene

Master the Laws of Human Nature

The key to life is relationships.

Have you ever wanted to become influential and achieve something great? 

Our influence over others often determines our ability to accomplish what we want. If you have a dream that you want to achieve, you’re going to have to work with other people. Lacking the ability to work with others effectively can be detrimental. 

In order to develop the skills to work with other people and influence them to help us, we need to better understand human nature. 

My guest today, Robert Greene, knows all about human nature. His most recent work The Laws of Human Nature covers a wide range of human characteristics that are important to understand if we want to obtain success. We can tap into these characteristics to better understand people and ourselves.

If you want to learn how to become influential and do something great, read on!

Who Is Robert Greene?

Robert Greene studied at U.C. Berkley, and he received a degree in classical studies from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. 

Robert published his first book The 48 Laws of Power at the age of 36 and has since become one of our generation’s most influential writers. He’s responsible for several inventive successes, including The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, The Art of Seduction, and his most recent work The Laws of Human Nature

His works are widely praised by a variety of sources, including war historians and acclaimed musicians. Several of his books appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Robert was also featured in the first episode of School of Greatness, so please check out that interview after hearing this one! 

I am incredibly pleased to have him back on the program to discuss human nature and its role in success. Robert is a brilliant man and an ingenious author. His insights into the human mind in terms of our emotions and beliefs are honestly groundbreaking. I cannot wait for you to hear what he has to say — it will truly change your life!

How Our Insecurities Can Motivate Us

Robert explained how even though he’s created many helpful and thought-provoking books, his hard work actually sprang from deep-rooted insecurities:

“The source of my insecurity is I kind of have a desire to please people to impress them … self-doubt [is] where you’re trying to please people, and maybe you go a little extra hard. So in that sense, compensating for your insecurities in that way can be a positive thing. So my insecurity by itself could destroy me, in that I would never get the effort up to … write a book or do something.” – Robert Greene

Robert puts his energy in trying to connect with people and impressing them through his incredible writing. Even though self-doubt plagues him, he’s successfully used his insecurities to create something great. We need to use our fears to motivate us rather than let it hinder us from achieving something awesome!

“A lot of young people have this problem. They have a negative attitude where they, they think that ‘Well if I don’t do anything … at least I won’t fail’… if you don’t try too hard, you’re never going to fail. You’re never going to have the pain of failure. So that’s the negative side of insecurity, but it can also motivate you to try even harder to actually get work done, and to make it something really great.” – Robert Greene

In what areas of your life do you have insecurities? How can you turn those insecurities into strengths? Don’t let the fear of failure block you from accomplishing something great. Instead, use the fear to move yourself forward!

Determining the Quality of a Person’s Character

One of the many topics Robert discusses in his book The Laws of Human Nature is understanding the strengths of a person’s character. Determining the strength of a person’s character is essential in choosing to associate with that person — whether in a professional or social capacity. Robert describes character as the primary value of a person.

“It’s who they are at their core. It creates patterns of behavior that they can’t even really control. It’s who they are, genetically. It’s who they are from the early eyes of their parents. So you want to connect to that. You want to see that. It’s not immediately visible to you because people will disguise their character. You want to see that, and you want to value it more than anything else.” – Robert Greene

It’s essential that when we associate with someone, we evaluate them for their character above all else. Character isn’t a personality mask they show to the world. Like Robert said, character is “who they are at their core.” So when we catch a glimpse of that, we understand who someone truly is rather than what they appear to be. 

“So you want people who are adaptable, who can be fluid, who aren’t weak … who have an inner strength and a core to them, but they can bend. They can learn. They can adapt. They can change. You want to see people who are empathetic…” – Robert Greene

How can you detect someone’s character? You can tell the strength of someone’s character based on their actions rather than the flattering disguise that they put on. Any person can appear to be someone else through the words they say, but actions don’t lie. 

“You want to be able to look at people’s patterns and look at their past and see trends and understand that if they’ve done certain things in the past, they will continue to do them because we humans have compulsive behavior. We are compelled to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.” – Robert Greene

I asked Robert if there’s a way to overcome our patterns and improve our character. He said that the first thing we can do is develop self-awareness to recognize our harmful patterns and behaviors so that we can begin to change our patterns.

In what ways can you improve your character? Do you have any bad patterns — such as frequent anger or impatience — that are harmful to others? Recognize your damaging actions so that you can begin to move towards change and strengthen your character. While character is at your core being, you can take steps to improve it for the better. 

“Think like a king to be treated like one.” @RobertGreene  

Believing in Our Success

A crucial part of our success is developing the right attitude and believing in our ability to succeed. Robert and I discussed the significant impact that belief plays in our lives: 

“So they have this thing called ‘the Pygmalion effect.’ Teachers who treat a student as if they are smart and going to do well, those students end up doing well. Right? So how you treat people, how you think about yourself has a great impact on what happens to you.” – Robert Greene

Our attitude is essential for both believing in ourselves and having others believe in you. On The School of Greatness, we often talk about how having the right mindset is an essential part of success. Negative thinking breeds negativity, while positive thinking breeds action and positivity.

“If you go through life thinking, ‘God, I’m not really that good, you know, there’s something wrong with me … I don’t deserve to have a lot of success or to have a lot of money.’ People read that off of you … So when somebody feels that they don’t deserve things, it’s kind of an off-putting quality in them. And it pushes people away. So you create self-fulfilling dynamics by how you look at yourself and your attitude.” – Robert Greene

Robert describes our interactions with others as “enrolling” them, meaning that we’re either enrolling them in our visions or un-enrolling them. Every interaction we have, we are either positively or negatively influencing people into participating in our goals. Your vision might have something to do with a dream company, and you’re attempting to persuade investors. Or it could involve growing your social life, and you’re trying to enroll people into being your friend. 

If you don’t believe in yourself, then it’s going to be significantly harder to have other people believe in you. Believing in yourself is essential for persuading others to invest in your dreams. 

Learning How to Persuade People

Another essential component for persuasion is becoming a good listener. Robert observed that the main obstruction people face when attempting to develop their listening skills is being more interested in themselves than other people.

“The truth is you’re more interested in your own thoughts and your own ideas, things that you’re so certain about your own experiences than about that other person and what they’re saying, and what’s going on inside them. If you can flip that around; if you can actually feel the motivation to get … inside … [their] head in … [their] experience, then you will suddenly become a better listener.” – Robert Greene

Listening to people and making a conscious effort to understand them is essential for success. People who only listen to themselves are NOT the people you want to be friends with, start a business with, or invest in. 

“… the key to success in life is people … if you’re terrible with people, your life is going to be hell. So are you motivated to become somebody supremely skilled at understanding and working with people.” – Robert Greene 

We must develop our people-skills by genuinely trying to understand them. Think about a time someone genuinely listened to you. Did you feel kinder toward that person? Did you want to invest in them the next time they need help? You’ll feel more inclined to help that person or have a personal or professional relationship with them. 

Another key to persuasion is understanding how emotions and moods are contagious. We influence others by our energy rather than our words. Here’s how Robert explains that phenomenon: 

“Our moods are extremely contagious. And so you can persuade people more through infecting them with your mood than through your words. True words are not necessarily the best means of influence … So it’s a whole language that you need to master is how your moods infect other people. And I tell people, experiment with that. Normally with this one person, you’re locked in a dynamic where you always are kind of reacting the same way. Try next time approaching them with a completely different mood, think something differently about them.” – Robert Greene

If you think of someone as exciting rather than boring, then you’ll shift your energy towards that person, and they will respond differently to your new energy. You’re more likely to enroll people if you make them feel good, so you need to develop contagious, positive energy!  

Finding Your Purpose 

An essential part of your success and overall happiness is overcoming aimlessness and finding your purpose. Robert observed the inherent difficulty we have as humans when it comes to overcoming aimlessness:

“The problem for human beings is, you know, an animal, a cat or a dog, they don’t have to wake up in the morning and decide what they’re going to do, right? … Their life is sort of programmed. … We humans don’t have that kind of programming. We are not given any kind of natural guidance in life. We could wake up, and we could not go to work tomorrow. We could suddenly do whatever we want if we felt so inclined. So we have to create our own sense of purpose, and that purpose can’t come from the outside. … So the trick in life is figuring out what you were meant to do.” – Robert Greene

We aren’t meant to live programmed, aimless lives. Every person is unique, and we need to let our uniqueness determine our purpose.

“You are different. You have something very unique about you. That uniqueness exists for a purpose. If you follow that, if you use your uniqueness in some way, you will create something probably pretty interesting and pretty great … Your uniqueness is your source of power.

The further you deviate from that uniqueness, the weaker you will become. You will become like other people.” – Robert Greene

We often feel a pressure to be like everybody else, but if you don’t engage your own passions, then you’ll live a passionless life. Robert experienced this firsthand, when he used his unique perspective and writing style to write The 48 Laws of Power — which broke traditional stylistic and structural conventions. 

“You can hate The 48 Laws of Power, but you can honestly [say that] no one has ever written a book like that. The structure with the stories, the sections, the quotes, the things on the side. And I got a lot of grief for that. The publishers go, ‘I don’t think this will work. We want you to change it. We want it to be more like other books.’ And so I stuck to my guns, and I said, ‘No, I’m going to go down sinking with who I am. If this works, it’s because I’m weird, and I’m unique.’ And it succeeded.” – Robert Greene

Robert embraced his uniqueness and created something great rather than compromising his vision, and so can you! How are you unique, and how can you use it to do something great? Harness your uniqueness, and do something amazing with your life!

Why You Should Listen to this Robert Greene Podcast Episode Right Now… 

Here’s the bottom line: mastering the laws of human nature is essential for succeeding. If we understand those around us and ourselves, we can accomplish something great. Believe in yourself and embrace what makes you you

I found Robert’s definition of greatness absolutely incredible: 

“By knowing the laws of human nature, you can begin to explore a little bit further out and become something a little bit more. You can take your irrational nature and become more reasonable and rational. Well, going and pushing a little bit past your limits and expanding like a balloon. Just a little further. That’s greatness to me. Not accepting, but moving past your own limits.” – Robert Greene 

To learn more wisdom from Robert Greene, pick up his new book The Laws of Human Nature. It will completely change your life. I cannot stress enough how thought-provoking and informative his work is. Also check out his website Power, Seduction, & War, as well as his Instagram (@robertgreeneofficial) and Twitter (RobertGreene). 

Friends, find your unique purpose, and enroll other people into helping you make that purpose happen! We can’t do anything truly great alone. 


To Greatness,

Lewis Howes - Signature

“Nobody ever does anything once.” @RobertGreene  

Some Questions I Ask:

  • What is your biggest insecurity? 
  • Is there value in detaching from our emotions?
  • How do we understand the strength of someone’s character? 
  • How do we break harmful patterns? 
  • What are ways we sabotage ourselves? 
  • What does it mean to “infect people with the proper mood”? 
  • How do you make people want to follow you? 

In this episode, you will learn:

    • How self-doubt can actually help you
    • The most important thing to think about when hiring someone
    • What it means to have strength of character
    • How the Pygmalion Effect can help you succeed
    • How to become a Master Persuader
    • The key to becoming a better listener
    • The importance of body language
    • What makes someone a successful seducer
    • The number one need that humans have
    • How to find your passion
    • Plus much more…

Connect with
Robert Greene

Transcript of this Episode

Lewis Howes:                 This is episode number 713, with #1 New York Times bestselling author, Robert Greene.

Welcome to The School of Greatness. My name is Lewis Howes, former pro-athlete turned lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you an inspiring person or message to help you discover how to unlock your inner greatness. Thanks for spending some time with me today. Now, let the class begin.

Oprah Winfrey said, “The greatest discovery of all time, is that a person can change his future by merely changing his attitude.”

And Winston Churchill said, “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

We are blessed to have the one and only Robert Greene in the house today, who is going to share a lot and this might be one of the most powerful and informative interviews of a long time, because we’re talking about the laws of human nature.

And the key to life is relationships. The relationships you have with other people around you and the relationship you have with yourself. And if we do not understand how to master these relationships, we will never achieve what we desire in our lives.

We need people in our lives, to achieve and accomplish and make certain things happen, and if we show up in a way that is convincing and if we don’t understand where other people are coming from, then we are missing out on a huge part of life.

Whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert or somewhere in the middle, all of this will be relevant to you and could transform the way everything is done in your life, moving forward. And if you don’t know who Robert Greene is, he is the #1 New York Times bestselling author, known for his books on strategy, power, and seduction.

He has written five international bestsellers; The 48 Laws Of Power, which is a mega hit, two million copies sold; The Art Of Seduction, The 33 Strategies Of War, The 50th Law, and Mastery. And now he has a new book called, ‘The Laws Of Human Nature.’

I’m telling you guys, I’m looking through this right now and I’m circling and underlining so many things. It’s a game changer. It’s like the Bible of understanding how humans think and act.

And in addition to having a massive following in the business world, and a deep following within Washington DC, his books are hailed by everyone from war historians to the biggest musicians and artists in the world, including Jay Z, Drake, and 50 Cent, who are all massive fans of Robert Greene.

In this interview we talk about how we can build masterpieces in our life’s work, without sacrificing health, and is that possible? Robert just had a stroke, two months prior, and we dive in talking about how he went so hard on writing this book, that he believes part of it was causing this stroke where he now has to recover, and we dive into that.

We also talk about how do we really determine someone’s character? How can you see behind the mask and figure out if someone has a strong character or not? The quality of listening that you need to do, in order to form the most powerful relationships in the world, and why most of us are not really listening at all.

Also, learning how to accept and understand others, instead of just judging people. And a small hint here: if you want people to do anything you want them to do, you can’t judge them. We cover the difference between manipulation and persuasion and really we go over the five strategies for becoming a master persuader. This section of the interview is going to blow you away!

We talk about understanding your shadow self and how you need to have a dark side, and so much more. This is blowing me away! I’m so excited for you to listen to this one. Make sure to share this with your friends,

Tag me on Instagram when you’re listening to it right now, so I can connect with you, because I believe you’re going to be nodding your head throughout this entire time, saying, “Aha!” a lot of the time and freaking out about what you’re going to learn about yourself and the people around you.

This is backed with five years of research and so many ideas for you to get out of this. I’m super pumped for this! Let me know what you think.

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Hey guys! Many of you have heard me talk about this amazing event I just participated in. It’s called 29029. It was one of the most incredible weekends of my life, but also one of the most physically demanding and I first heard about 29029 from my friend, Jesse Itzler, who puts this on.

Now, he’s been on the podcast a couple of times, he’s a freak athlete himself, and just an all round good guy, and he told me it was a unique experience that I had to try out.

And it was the equivalent of climbing, vertically, Mount Everest, over two days. He said it was totally doable, and extremely hard, and he asked me to come do it. And I thought I could do this without any training. Well, I have to say, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but also so amazing.

It was challenging, it was different, and it was life changing all in one, and the only way I can really explain it is, it was part networking , part fitness challenge, and part get-to-know-myself type of a gut check.

So, here’s what it is: These guys literally rent out a mountain. An entire mountain, and they set up these amazing tents that you sleep in and create a private village or base camp experience that everyone stays at.

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Now, they provide all the accommodations, which are first class, the training guides, world class coaches, massage therapy, swag, and an intro into an amazing group of people. I’ve had several business conversations during those hikes, and met some incredible individuals.

And since I posted this on my Instagram, many of you have been asking me about this. Each event is limited to 200 people, and the one I did in Vermont, was completely sold out. But right now, tickets are on sale for the next two events. One is in Utah, and one is back in Vermont. It’s an investment well worth it.

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Alright, guys! A big thank you to our sponsor, and, again, I’m super pumped about this, so without further ado, let me introduce to you the one, the only, Robert Greene!

Welcome, everyone, back to The School of Greatness Podcast, we have Robert Greene in the house. Good to see you, my friend.

Robert Greene:              So good to see you, Lewis!

Lewis Howes:                 You are one of the most influential writers of the last two decades, with your books, The 48 Laws Of Power, The 33 Strategies Of War, The 50th Law, Mastery, The Art Of Seduction, and now, The Laws Of Human Nature, which is going not be a massive hit! Make sure you guys get this book. And probably your best work ever, in your mind, right? Do you think this is your best work?

Robert Greene:              It’s hard to say, it’s like choosing between your children, which is your favourite child. It’s the latest, so it is, you know, I’m very proud of it, but the thing was, I didn’t, for over twenty years I’ve been writing these books, so massive amounts of research and reading, but also consulting with people in business and other areas.

So, I’ve gathered a lot of intelligence, or knowledge, about people and what makes them tick. And I’ve seen a lot of mistakes that I’ve made and other people have made, so this is sort of the distillation of all my years of research and all the things I’ve experienced.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow. Where’s your biggest insecurity in your life? Whether it be when you first started writing books, twenty years ago, to where it is now.

Robert Greene:              Well, I’m very insecure, but I try to turn it into something positive. Meaning, when I finish a book, I don’t really know if it’s that good, or if it’s going to be successful. I’m very worried that I’m not connecting to the reader, to the audience, so what that does, for me, is I never kind of rest, I’m never comfortable.

I never assume, “Wow, this is a masterpiece, it’s going to do really well. And so, when I’m writing the book, and it’s been with all my books, I’m thinking very, very deeply about the reader. How is the reader going to assimilate this information? Will it help him or her? Will it strike a chord? Will it resonate with their life or will they think of people that they know?

So, I’m trying to connect very, very deeply to the reader, because I’m insecure, because I don’t take them for granted. I think where a lot of writers, and people, go wrong, is they believe in their own myth. They believe that what they have written is so good, that they don’t have to make that effort to connect to people.

A lot of professors, or experts or people who are in a particular, very specific field, they assume that their knowledge is, you know, that other people know what they know. And they kind of talk down to the reader. I try to never talk down to the reader, I try to elevate the conversation.

Lewis Howes:                 Right, and what would you say is your main insecurity? Is it a fear of judgement? That people might not like your writing, or they might not like you, or that you’re not good enough, or what’s the [thing]?

Robert Greene:              Probably all of it, yeah. I kind of grew up that way. My parents were not the type to coddle me, or to say, “You’re great, Robert.” I came home with straight A’s and it was like, “Uh-huh. So what?”

Lewis Howes:                 They didn’t care that much, out loud.

Robert Greene:              No, they cared, they cared, but you could always do better.

Lewis Howes:                 Even if you got a perfect score?

Robert Greene:              Oh, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 Okay, you could have done it faster, or you could have done it…

Robert Greene:              Yeah. It’s kind of a Jewish thing, I have to say. So, I never felt secure about my work. Maybe, when I was younger, I tried to write, I tried many different forms of writing. I tried writing novels, and I think in my twenties I was a little more grandiose.

I believed that what I was writing was really great, and it wasn’t, it kind of sucked. So it’s been a process of also getting over that kind of youthful exuberance, and taking more time and thinking more deeply about what you’re doing.

But I have a lot of insecurities. I mean, that’s one of them.

Lewis Howes:                 Uh-huh. And you talk about detaching from our emotions. Is there more value in detaching from our emotions, or, because we are emotional and insecure, we create better work by holding on to those emotions?

Robert Greene:              Well, that’s a great question!

Lewis Howes:                 If you didn’t care, do you think these books would be as good as they are?

Robert Greene:              Well, probably the source, to get back to your first question, the source of my insecurity is, I kind of have a desire to please people, to impress them. I’m just being very honest here, and this probably went back to very early on, so I’ve always just wanted to get the best grades and be the best pupil in the class.

But there’s a weakness in that. It seems great; you’re getting straight A’s, you’re doing well in sports, et cetera, but there’s actually an insecurity, a self doubt, when you’re trying to please people and maybe go a little extra hard so, in that sense, compensating for your insecurities, in that way, can be a positive thing.

So, my insecurity by itself could destroy me in that I would ever get the effort up to write a book or do something.

Lewis Howes:                 It would hold you back from putting it out.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, because, if I doubt myself, maybe it’s better to never try anything. A lot of young people have this problem. They have a negative attitude. They think that, “Well, if I don’t do anything, if I just be a slacker, then at least I won’t fail, and I can kind of make myself feel better that I’m the best slacker that there is.”

You know, if you don’t try too hard, you’re never going to fail, you’re never going to have the pain of failure. So that’s the negative side of insecurity. But it can also motivate you to try even harder, to actually get work done, and to make it something really great, and to doubt yourself, constantly, which is how I kind of use that.

Lewis Howes:                 Right, using the doubt to push yourself to put out better work.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, I mean, we can get to this, I had a stroke a couple of months ago. Probably what led to this, and this is probably not a good thing, but I worked so hard on this book.

Lewis Howes:                 Five years, obsessing over it, every word, every sentence.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, yeah. And I was thinking, “How can I make this more accessible?” Because a lot of the information that I had was from kind of heavy sources, like psychologists or people who are psychoanalysts who have studied human nature very deeply, and they use a lot of jargon,  and you can’t really figure out exactly what they’re saying, and I want to make it readable for the average reader out there.

So, the effort of constantly trying to connect to people, I think, comes from an insecurity, but it’s turned into something positive.

That’s a great question! I’ve never had anybody ask this before.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. Do you feel like it’s worth putting out these books that reach millions of people at the detriment of potential health challenges?

Robert Greene:              Yeah! I mean, if you asked me if I could have the choice of not writing the book and never having this physical problem, I would have chosen writing the book.

Lewis Howes:                 Really?

Robert Greene:              For sure.

Lewis Howes:                 Why is that?

Robert Greene:              Because I may be physically crippled at little bit, and I’ll get over it, but I have this for the rest of my life. I can feel really good about myself. I could die tomorrow, and I’d know that I wrote what I wanted to create. I expressed what my life was meant to express.

So, that’s a great feeling, that, even in the worst depression I could have, with my body not responding the way I want, I can feel a great deal of pride that I actually got this thing done, and it didn’t kill me.

Lewis Howes:                 Is there a way to create masterpieces…

Robert Greene:              Without doing that?

Lewis Howes:                 And staying healthy and peaceful in your mind?

Robert Greene:              Well, you know, you’d think I would have, because I exercise every day.

Lewis Howes:                 You swim.

Robert Greene:              I swim, I mean, I’m a fanatic! Even now, with my stroke, I’m exercising every day, aerobically, and I eat well, and I meditate, and I do everything right, but it still led to this. Yeah, it’s a good question. I think my next book, because I am getting older, and this happened, I’m going to have to kind of find a better way to do it, a little bit. Just write something shorter, with a lot of work, but not maybe take five years.

Lewis Howes:                 Right, take a year and a half, two years, maybe three years, yeah.

Robert Greene:              Three years, maybe, two or three years, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! So you’re already thinking about the next book.

Robert Greene:              Yeah. In the ambulance, on the way home form the hospital, I had an idea for my next book.

Lewis Howes:                 Really? What was that?

Robert Greene:              Well, it’s very primitive. I’ve not really totally developed it, but it’s about how the bad things in life, how negative things are actually – I mean, it’s similar to Ryan’s book, but it’s different spin on it. How you actually learn more from negative than the positive.

I thought of, in the ambulance back home, I thought of all the people I knew who handle adversity terribly. I’m not going to name names.

Lewis Howes:                 Sure.

Robert Greene:              Some of them are related to me.

Lewis Howes:                 Sure.

Robert Greene:              Who handle adversity really badly. And I thought, “I don’t want to be them.” And as I thought about it, I thought, “Hmmm… There’s something interesting in that thought.” Like, who I don’t want to be, we never think like that. But it was actually very interesting.

And it’s also getting in touch with learning from your bad experiences but, also, it’s kind of a book about negativity, and I know that sounds really bad and negative, but how we’re so attached to what we see in life, to what’s in front of us, to the appearances people have, to their masks they wear.

And I want you to think of what isn’t there, what you’re not seeing, what’s invisible. I kind of go into it in the chapter about generations and trends and society. In all my books I’m trying to tell people, “Don’t accept what you see with your eyes, look for something deeper. What is the meaning behind this?”

If you’re planning a strategy, or making a big decision in your life what is it that you’re not considering? So, it’s kind of about negative space – I know it’s very primitive, but I can promise you I’ll turn it into something interesting.

Lewis Howes:                 I’m sure it’ll be beautiful, yeah. Well, in sports, they always talk about you learn more from your losses than your wins. Everything’s fine when you win. You’re like, “Ah, everything’s forgiven,” and you just keep doing it. But when you’re losing, that’s when you’re like, “Okay we evaluate everything.”

Robert Greene:              That’s right. Well, some people don’t, because they don’t know how to do that, but that’s how you have to profit from your losses. I do that with things I’ve written that didn’t quite work out. I’ve written books that I had to completely rewrite that were dead-ends.

Like the 50 Cent book. I had a version of that book, that we did together, that wasn’t working at all. And I learned a lot from what I did wrong there. I learned, for instance, the problem of that book, and its first version, was that I wasn’t being myself, I was trying to please him more.

And I’ve learned to always be myself. But I had to learn that by trying to be someone else. So, that sort of is what you’re talking about.

Lewis Howes:                 Interesting, yeah. In this book – I think this is fascinating –  of all these different laws about human nature, and understanding why humans do the things they do, why they think, why they feel a certain way, you talk about determining the strength of people’s character.

How do we understand the strength of someone’s character? Whether they’re toxic, whether they have high values, besides the things that we can see of, like, “Okay, they broke their word, or they’re negative,” or things like that. How do we really determine someone’s character?

Robert Greene:              Well the first thing you have to do, the most important thing, is to realise that determining people’s character is the most important thing that you have to do in judging them. So, normally, we think if someone’s very charming, then that’s great, or if they’re very good looking, or if they’re successful.

So, if we’re looking, let’s say we’re looking for a business partner, or a romantic partner, or a colleague to work with, we’re going to base our decision on those kinds of appearances. People can be very good at deceiving you with being very charming and flattering. Or they have a brilliant resumé, and you’ll be seduced by that.

And what you want to do, the first step in that law is to say, “No, that’s not how I’m going to judge people. My main value is their character and the strength of their character.” And character is something from deep, deep, deep within.

The word ‘character’ comes from the Greek [charáxei], which means to carve, and character is something really deeply carved inside the person. It’s who they are, at their core. It creates patterns of behaviour that they can’t even really control. It’s who they are genetically, it’s who they are from the early lives of their parents.

So, you want to connect to that, you want to see that. It’s not immediately visible to you, because people will disguise their character. You want to see that, and you want to value it more than anything else. And what you want are people with strong character.

What that means is, they have an expression for metal, they call it ‘tensile’, where a metal is stronger if it can give a little bit, because if something is too rigid…

Lewis Howes:                 It breaks.

Robert Greene:              It breaks. So, you want people who are adaptable, who can be fluid, who aren’t weak, because that metal isn’t weak, who have an inner strength and a core to them, but they can bend, they can learn, they can adapt, they can change.

You want to see people who are empathetic, who know how to get along with other people. So, if you have two people to choose, and one has a glittering resumé, but the other person understands human nature and is superior in a social sense, and also has a good work ethic, you choose that other person, you don’t choose, necessarily, the person with that glittering resumé.

One of the things you look for are patterns, in judging their character, because people reveal themselves in the past. They reveal who they are through their actions. They try to disguise it, but they reveal it, so I say in that chapter, “Nobody ever does anything once.”

So, let’s say you have a friend who does something kind of nasty to you, they talk behind your back, then they’ll say, “Oh, Robert, Robert, that was just, something came over me. That isn’t me,” you know? “I’m sorry about that, that just happened. Circumstances made me do that.”

And you’ll be likely to believe them, but he fact is, if they’ve done that once, they’ve probably done that many times. If people gossip and you hear them gossiping about other people, they’ll probably eventually gossip about you.

So, you want to be able to look at people’s patterns and look at their past, and see trends, and understand that if they’ve done certain things in the past, they will continue to do them, because we humans have compulsive behaviour. We are compelled to repeat the same mistakes over and over and over again.

Lewis Howes:                 How do we stop that pattern, if we recognise it within ourselves, “My character’s been off, I’ve been doing something for years, in a certain way, that I don’t want to do any more.” How do we do it so we can strengthen our character, but also say, “You know what, I believe this other person can have a stronger character through breaking a pattern.”?

Or is it just not possible?

Robert Greene:              Of course it’s possible, and at the end of every chapter, I show you how you can turn this potentially negative quality into a positive quality. So, when it comes to you and your own patterns, you have to first realise that you have these patterns, before you can even beging to break them.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s awareness.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, honesty. There’s a book about awareness and being honest with yourself. If you don’t admit that you have these patterns, then you can’t possibly break them. I know, in writing books, I have terrible, terrible patterns.

Lewis Howes:                 Like what?

Robert Greene:              Well, stressing so much over things that aren’t that important.

Lewis Howes:                 Obsessing, stressing, yeah.

Robert Greene:              Obsessing. I take note cards for everything that I read, all my research, and I take way too much information. I have, like, thousands of them running, and I have to stop and say, “Stop being such a perfectionist! You’re wasting your time!” It’s been book after book after book! I’m very aware of it and I’m very aware of breaking that pattern.

But you have to see it and be honest with yourself, in order to break it. So, that’s the first step, seeing the pattern, and then not struggling against it, not trying to be somebody who you’re not, but finding a way to use that pattern, to use hat problem to your advantage, similar to what Ryan Holiday wrote in his book, The Obstacle Is the Way.

I have an example in the book of a actress, Joan Crawford, from the Hollywood classical period. She had a very troubled childhood. She didn’t know her father, her mother beat her, men abused her, et cetera. And it was creating terrible patterns in her life, and she found a way to turn that around, to use all of those disadvantages and make herself much stronger, and a very powerful performer, by bringing all of the pain in her childhood into her acting.

By becoming so focused on the director. Because she had been abused, she was very sensitive to other people. She used that sensitivity to focus on the director and other actors, to be in tune with them.

Lewis Howes:                 To connect with them, to build relationship, is that essentially?

Robert Greene:              Yeah, she was very aware of her own weaknesses and her own fragility, and she was able to use that as a strength. So ,with other people, it’s never hopeless. I mean, some people are toxic, I talk a lot in there about toxic characters. Those are the kinds of people who can’t really change, their patterns are too ingrained.

And we’ve all met people like that. We’ve all had to deal with the narcissist who is so deeply self absorbed, there is nothing that’s ever going to save them or pull them out of that self-absorption.

Lewis Howes:                 Really? Unless they have a near death experience, or they have someone close to them, you know, something where it’s like a big awakening.

Robert Greene:              That’s true, that’s true.

Lewis Howes:                 Or they get sick, or whatever, right?

Robert Greene:              You’re right. That happens, that does happen.

Lewis Howes:                 Sometimes.

Robert Greene:              Sometimes it does, but you have to be honest that there are people out there – you can’t be naive – there are people out there who are toxic, who are dangerous, who can ruin your life. You hire the wrong person and I’ve dealt with a lot of them, in my consulting, with a lot of people who hired a business partner, who ended up taking their business form them.

It’s a very common scenario. You have to not be naive, and recognise these toxic types. And, often, it’s best not to try and change them. Because trying to change them entangles you in a lot of their drama.

Lewis Howes:                 And it’s just never going to happen. You might be trying for years and wasting your time and energy.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, but, you know, people have to be able to change themselves. They have to be motivated. You can help illuminate some of their patterns and their problems, but it has to come from within.

Lewis Howes:                 Now, you talk about the law of self-sabotage, and how we self-sabotage ourselves by attracting toxic people but, also, what are other ways that we sabotage ourselves?

Robert Greene:              Well, this is a chapter about your attitude in life. The point of that chapter, related to human nature, is none of us see the world in the same way. So you and I could go watch a movie, it’s the same movie that we’re watching. I love it, I see something, you hate it, you see something else. You don’t experience it the same way.

We’re watching the same world, the same reality, but we experience it differently. Everybody you meet is experiencing their world differently than you are. So you have an attitude that colours what you see, and some people have an attitude that tends towards the negative.

I describe a negative attitude as something that’s closed. So, you’re not open to new experiences, you’re trying to close that lens. You have certain beliefs, certain ideas about life and you’re not willing to change them, because that gives you a sense of security.

And so, you want an attitude that’s expansive, where you accept people, you’re not always judging them, you’re not negative about them, you understand that people can’t necessarily help who they are, you’re open to change, you’re open to having adventure, and that kind of attitude, gives you a certain degree of freedom, so that the worst thing that happened to you, you’re able to transform that into something good.

So, your question was?

Lewis Howes:                 How do we recognise when we’re sabotaging ourselves and what are the things we do most to self-sabotage?

Robert Greene:              Well, if we have a setback or a failure in life, which is inevitable, do we do one of two things: Do we analyse ourselves and see what we did wrong and how we can change ourselves, or do we immediately look outwards and blame other people?

That person screwed me [over]. Society doesn’t like me. Because of these circumstances I’m screwed and I can never help it. It’s the world and not me.” That’s a sign of a sabotaging pattern of behaviour. Because, if you’re always pointing fingers at other people and blaming them, you’re never going to learn from your experiences, and you’ll end up being quite bitter.

So, that’s probably one of the main sources of  self-sabotaging.

Lewis Howes:                 So, you could easily say, “This stupid bee that stung my neck, that caused this blood clot and this high pressure in me. I blame the bee for this stroke that I had. Screw you, bee!” Or you could take responsibility and say, “Well, what did I do to my health leading up to the bee sting?” You know? For years, and taking full ownership and responsibility. Is that what I’m hearing?

Robert Greene:              Yeah, right. Yeah, that’s what you’re hearing.

Lewis Howes:                 And the story and the perception around the experience, the way you see that movie playing out, having a positive attitude around it.

Robert Greene:              Well, reflecting about the role that you played in what happened. So, we’re not in charge of everything that happens in life. There are circumstances that are beyond our control, right? But a lot of what does happen to us, is something that we are responsible for.

There are amazing studies about the role of attitude and what happens to you in life. So they have this thing called the Pygmalion effect. Teachers who treat a student as if they are smart and going to do well, those students end up doing well. So how you treat people, how you think about yourself, has a great impact on what happens to you.

When doctors prescribe a new medication, there’s always the same trend. The new medication that’s just been invented. The success rate is, like, 80%, because people believe in it, because it’s new. And then, like, two years later it starts going down because it’s not new. It’s a placebo effect.

So, if you believe something is going to work, if you believe that you are great and that you deserve good things, that you are a good student, you end up making those things happen. So how you look at yourself will often determine what ends up happening to yourself.

So, if you’re talking about what causes self-sabotage, if you go through life thinking, “I’m not really that good. There’s something wrong with me. I don’t really deserve good things. I don’t deserve to have a lot of success or to have a lot of money,” people read that off of you.

A major theme in this book is that we are masters at reading people’s body language and non verbal behaviour. So, when somebody feels that they don’t deserve things, it’s kind of an off-putting quality in them and it pushes people away, so you end up creating self-fulfilling dynamics, by how you look at yourself, and you attitude.

I had a chapter in The 48 Laws Of Power, called ‘Think Like A King To Be Treated Like One’. And there’s a story of Christopher Columbus who came from dirt poor poverty, but imagined that he was royalty, and by imagining that, people started treating him like that.

And as they treated him like that, he felt even greater about himself, and he was able to convince the king of Portugal to give him these ships, when, in fact, he was just a mediocre captain. So, your attitude and how you think about yourself, determines how people treat you and what happens in life.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, I always say that life is an enrolment game, and we’re either enrolling people in our vision, or unenrolling people by the way we’re showing up, our energy, our language, what we’re not saying.

Robert Greene:              What do you mean by, ‘enrolling’?

Lewis Howes:                 I’m enrolling you to come on my show, and getting you to come on my show, because of the energy that I put out, the relationship that we have, the connection, the platform.

Or I’m unenrolling you by the way I’ve treated you over the last six or seven years, by the platform being out of integrity or not doing that well, you’re not going to be as excited to want to say yes. We’re influencing people all the time.

Robert Greene:              You are influencing people all the time.

Lewis Howes:                 In a positive or a negative way, right?

Robert Greene:              Yes, everything you do people are reading and they’re either saying, “I like that,” or, “I don’t like that,” or, “I’m indifferent.”

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, yes is like I’m enrolling you, yes, or I’m not enrolling you is a no. And you talk about, the chapter that I really like is about, where are we at here, the persuasive one.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, 7.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, The Five Strategies To Becoming A Master Persuader. Yeah, right here, 7, yeah.

Robert Greene:              Well, you, Lewis, don’t need to read that chapter, because you already have that kind of mastered.

Lewis Howes:                 But I think people need to understand this, because I think what we just talked about right there is probably one of the most powerful parts of this book in my mind, and in life, is, “Are you enrolling people in your vision? In being the king or queen, in getting the ships that you want, are you stepping up and enrolling people and getting people to say yes to you, or your dreams or hire you or date you or marry you?

Or are you not showing up in a way that people want to say yes to you?

Robert Greene:              Right. Key question.

Lewis Howes:                 And I feel like my whole business has been built on getting people to say yes, when I had nothing, you know? I was on my sister’s couch ten years ago. No money, no skills, no degree, and it was an energy that I had to learn how to just get people to say yes. And then building momentum around that.

So, I’d love to talk about this, becoming a master persuader, and the first thing you talked about, which I think most people aren’t doing, you say, is to deepen your listening, so you’re a better listener. Most people don’t have the patience to care about someone else, they’re so concerned about what they think about them.

Robert Greene:               Well, people always talk about being a better listener, and their advice is usually very weak. I mean, it’s ineffective, because, “Okay, become a better listener. I’ll try that.” But it’s very hard to overcome certain patters, so I try to tackle the question of, why is it that you’re not a good listener?

And at the root of that is, you’re more interested in yourself than you are in the other person. You will deny that, you will say, “Oh, no, no, no, that’s not me, that’s not me, I really like people.” But the truth is you’re more interested in your own thoughts and your own ideas, things that you’re so certain about, than about that other person and what they’re saying and what’s going on inside them.

If you can flip that around, if you can actually feel the motivation to get inside Lewis, and get inside his head and his experience, then you suddenly will become a better listener. That’s the key, not just telling people to listen more.

The key is the quality of the listening and the emotion involved. So, if I feel I want to get inside that other person, inside their life, then suddenly you will start listening. What will make you interested in other people?

Well, first off is the idea that you don’t know them. Normally when, let’s say, you’re on a first date with someone or you’re just meeting someone, you have assumptions about them. You create a simplified version of who they are, and that’s what you think, and they’ll stay with you forever.

Instead, you want to think, “That person is more interesting than I imagine. Their first appearance isn’t really who they are. They’re like a book that I could read.” We love going to movies and getting inside other characters and what motivates them, being taken along for a ride.

Think of the people you meet as a character in a movie. You want to know what motivates them. They are more interesting than you think. They’ve had trauma’s they’ve had problems from their early childhood. They have fantasies, they have a shadow, a dark side to their personality they’re not revealing, they’re more complicated and interesting than you think.

So, if you’re motivated to understand what makes them tick, and their experience, suddenly you will start listening. So, that’s the key, to me. And it’s not easy.

Lewis Howes:                 Why is it so hard for people? Because, for me, it’s been an easy thing, because I have used my insecurity of not feeling like I was smart enough, growing up, because I was one of the poorer students in school, so I used to be like, “My voice doesn’t matter as much, let me just ask smart people what they think,” and it became a huge advantage for me.

Robert Greene:              Right.

Lewis Howes:                 Because I’ve learned that being the most interested person in the room, you become the most interesting.

Robert Greene:              Well, the key is, really, so much, in the book is, “Are you motivated to change yourself? Do you want to become successful in life?” This book is trying to realign your priorities and how you look at the world. Normally your focus is on yourself, and on your work and the techniques in your work, the skills you have to master, and I’m telling you, the key to success in life is people.

We’re a social animal, we’re like dogs, or wolves, or whatever, chimpanzees. We’re a social animal, and how we interact with people will determine how far we get.  You could be brilliant at hacking computers, or whatever, but if you’re terrible with people, your life is going to be hell.

So, are you motivated to become somebody supremely skilled at understanding and working with people? That’s the whole point of the book. You have to buy into that. You have to buy into the fact that you’re usually bad at dealing with people, you’re not seeing who they are, you’re seeing reflections of your own fantasies or projections.

You have to admit that you’re not good at dealing with people, and you need to improve. If you understand that, you want to change, and you’re motivated to get out of your shell, then you can make that leap.

I’m  big advocate of baby steps. You’re not going to suddenly transform yourself in to Bill Clinton overnight.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah! Remember thousands  of people’s names and, yeah.

Robert Greene:              Or, suddenly become a great listener. So, every day, you give yourself little tests. So you have now lunch with this person whom you normally find kind of boring, alright?

“Okay, for ten minutes I’m going to shut off my internal monologue, and I’m going to force myself to listen to them. And I’m going to glean some information, some nugget about their character that I never understood before. I’m going to ask them about their childhood.”

It’s not going to be that kind of inquisition where I’m asking them penetrating questions, but in a relaxed mood, I’m going to find out about something that really motivates, or something deep, or some traumatic experience they had.

You force yourself, day by day, to take little baby steps in which you try to learn something about people that you didn’t know before, and get interested in them and their experiences.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, I think a lot of people are asking the wrong questions, too. I think you’ve got to start learning to ask different questions.

Robert Greene:              Like what? What do you mean?

Lewis Howes:                 I think a lot of questions are very surfacey, and I know you want to keep it relaxed as well. You don’t need to be like, “Tell me your darkest secret ever!” But, there’s ways you can start opening that up, and I think, for me, I know if I want to get the most out of someone, I need to give the most myself.

I have to start with vulnerability or opening up in certain ways. I can’t expect someone else to open up if I don’t. But, I think, certain questions, like if you’re meeting someone for the first time, as opposed to, “What do you do?” or, “Where do you work?” it’s, “What are you most excited about right now?”

Or, “What’s something you’ve been having a challenge with in your life?”

Robert Greene:              Yeah, well, the thing I tell people to look for – because I’m a very big believer in non-verbal communication – in the course of a conversation, if you keep it kind of open and flowing, people’s eyes will light up when a certain topic is mentioned.

It could be their children, it could be their work, it could be their parent, it could be something in their life that their whole body language changes, they relax. I know if you suddenly ask me about the Los Angeles Lakers, I would be very excited, because that’s one of my deep passions is life, is basketball and the Lakers.

Lewis Howes:                 Well, you know my hometown guy, LeBron James.

Robert Greene:              Oh, you’re from Cleveland.

Lewis Howes:                 I’m from Ohio.

Robert Greene:              Wow! How did you feel about this?

Lewis Howes:                 I feel bitter-sweet, because I wish he’d stayed in Cleveland, I wanted him to win one more there, but I live in L.A. now so it’s nice that he’s here at least, so I can go to some games and watch him. Because I didn’t get to go watch games in Cleveland. So, I’m like, “If he’s going to go anywhere, this is the place to be.

Robert Greene:              That’s good. Yeah. I definitely used to like LeBron, but now I love him.

Lewis Howes:                 But now you love him! Greatest player in the world, yeah!

Robert Greene:              He is, for sure!

Lewis Howes:                 So, you light up about that. Look at you, you’re getting excited talking about it.

Robert Greene:              You can see it! If someone inadvertently brought that up they could see that, “Oh, wow!” And you could talk for hours about the Lakers, you know? But everybody has a topic like that. It could be something a little more intellectual or more interesting than sports.

But your not paying attention to people’s body language is another thing, so as an observer, as a good listener, you’re not just hearing their words, you’re looking at their eyes, their facial expressions.

I have a chapter on that, how to differentiate between the fake smile and the genuine smile. And it’s very real, you know? A real smile lights up the whole face, it alters how the eyes look. You want to see when you get something like that. Or when you’ve done the opposite and you get that scowling micro-expression.

But people aren’t observant, they’re in their own shell, they’re not seeing people are constantly giving out signs of their likes, their aversions, their values, and you’re missing them because you’re not paying attention.

Lewis Howes:                 Is it because we’re too obsessed with how we look? Or what other people are judging about us? Is that why we’re closed off or not observant?

Robert Greene:              Yeah. I think it becomes kind of a habit and that’s the main part of it, that we’re worried about how we look and how they’re judging us. But, also, part of that habit is, you know, life is difficult in this world, in the modern world.

We’re absorbing too much information, on our phones, et cetera, and it’s a very competitive world out there, so naturally we turn inward. Naturally, we’re thinking about ourselves, we’re thinking about what we need to do, or our own anxieties. They’re talking and I’m thinking about, “S**t, I have to change that appointment tomorrow,” kind of thing, because you’re thinking about your own problems, et cetera.

And naturally so, but the whole thing is, and my books are all about, getting outside of yourself, and finding other people more interesting than yourself in some ways.

Lewis Howes:                 Uh-huh! Yeah, I’m always doing that.

Robert Greene:              You don’t need this book.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, I know. This is great, though. Now, for me, I do need this book, because there’s always another level of, “What am I missing? What am I not seeing? And how can I get to where I want to be, faster?”

You talk about ‘infect people with the proper mood’, what does that mean, and how do we do this?

Robert Greene:              Well, this is a key to influence and persuasion. I’m trying to make the case, in this book about human nature, that we are animals, that we have an animal side to our nature that you have to understand. We are extremely vulnerable to the emotions and moods of other people.

I trace that back to how we evolved as primates, and the need our ancestors had for understanding the moods of the people in the group or the tribe, before language was invented. So, we’re extremely vulnerable to the moods and attitudes of other people.

If someone visits us and they’re in a depressed mood, it will tend to lower our energy. We’ve all had the experience. Think of it yourself: you go through life and you encounter ten different people, and there’s always one in those ten people who kind of makes you feel happy. The moment you meet them, an old friend, or whomever. You’re smiling, you’re laughing, your mood changes.

And there’s always one in ten, every time you meet them you feel like, “Man…”

Lewis Howes:                 Your mood changes in a bad way, yeah.

Robert Greene:              In a bad way. Well it’s because you’re feeling something it’s not just the fact that you’re a friend. There’s something non verbal going on. Our moods are extremely contagious. And so, you can persuade people more through infecting them with your mood than through your words.

Lewis Howes:                 It’s true.

Robert Greene:              Words are not necessarily the best means of influence.

Lewis Howes:                 Energy. The way you show up.

Robert Greene:              Energy, attitude

Lewis Howes:                 It’s like, if there’s a negative room, where people are having a negative conversation, there’s ten people, and someone enters it with a positive energy, and just starts connecting with each person, you see the mood lift in a positive way.

But it could also be, everybody’s having a good time and one person comes in and is jut being negative and taking everyone down and saying stupid stuff.

Robert Greene:              We’ve all been through that.

Lewis Howes:                 Then everyone’s mood goes down, because, again, it goes back to life as an enrolment game. You’re either enrolling people in the way you want to show up, or they’re enrolling you in that energy.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, so this should be a really exciting concept to you as the reader, because what it means is you can alter people by how you approach them with your energy.

Lewis Howes:                 Exactly.

Robert Greene:              So, I mean, I wrote about that a lot in The Art Of Seduction. Errol Flynn was probably the greatest seducer that ever lived. If we counted the number of women he slept with, it’s close to 3,000 and he already died when he was fifty. If you do the math, it’s pretty insane. He was an unbelievable seducer, and I’ve researched this as deeply as I could. Why?

And women would write memoirs about it, and they mentioned their experience, and they said being around Errol Flynn was like having drunk three Martinis. He was so relaxed, and so comfortable with himself. He had a kind of animal spirit where he was just really himself and really comfortable, very open, that being around him you just felt all of your resistance and all of your defences just melting away.

There are other great seducers, like Duke Ellington was like that. So, on a level of seduction, in male of female, how you approach them, your mood, more than what you say about yourself and your own insecurities, will have a much greater impact.

Lewis Howes:                 More than the pick-up lines, or whatever. It’s actually that confidence.

Robert Greene:              I believe so. A relaxed, undefensive quality will go very far.

Lewis Howes:                 How did he die?

Robert Greene:              Alcohol. He was a major alcoholic, he drank himself to death.

Lewis Howes:                 Probably was unfulfilled?

Robert Greene:              Huh?

Lewis Howes:                 He was probably unfulfilled.

Robert Greene:              Chasing 3,000 women it could be, it gets kind no soulless after a while. He’s a very interesting character. But I remember when I was in Paris, when I was twenty-one I was living there, working in a hotel. And it was a hotel where all the models stayed.

And there was this Brazilian man who was obsessed with all the models in the hotel, and he was the greatest seducer I have ever seen in my life. And one day I was walking down the street with him and some other friends, and this other woman came running up.

She realised he was a seducer and had not been honest and was cheating on her, and I will never forget how he responded. He was so relaxed, and so undefensive about it, and he didn’t apologise, he was just, “This is who I am,” more or less, in his body language.

And she completely relaxed and changed, and, normally, it would have been this yelling match and he completely defused it with his relaxed attitude. So, it’s a whole language that you need to master, is how your moods infect other people.

And I tell people, “Experiment with that.” Normally, with this one person, you’re locked in a dynamic where you’re always reacting the same way. Try, next time, approaching them with a completely different mood. Think something differently about them.

Suddenly force yourself to think that this person is really, really good looking and exciting and seductive, and you’ll see that your thinking of them in a certain way will change how they respond to you.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow. As opposed to being defensive and guarded and reactive and and angry.

Robert Greene:              Judgemental.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, and you said you do not judge other people, you accept them as they are.

Robert Greene:              Well, that’s a key throughout the whole book.

Lewis Howes:                 You’re not going to influence people if you’re judging them.

Robert Greene:              That’s a key through the whole book; the book starts with a quote from Schopenhauer, meaning that if you come across people who are bad, or toxic, just think of them as a type of mineral that you’re encountering, that you’re a scientist.

People are all different. You’re not going to change them, they are who they are because of their circumstances, and instead of judging everyone, learn to accept them, and to understand that you are flawed and so are they. So, kind of get rid of your superiority.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, because that’s not going to influence them. If you’re trying to persuade them to do something, judging them and making them wrong is only going to make people more defensive, right?

Robert Greene:              Well, that’s true, but the other point is, your sense of superiority is usually not justified. I’m making the point in this book, the number one thing about human nature is that we tend to deny that there is such a thing. “I am not aggressive. I am not narcissistic. I never feel envy. I don’t have a bad side to me, it’s other people. I don’t have any of these bad qualities.”

Lewis Howes:                 Wrong! We all do that.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, you have these qualities as well as anyone else. If you can be honest with yourself, you’ll be a little more humble and realise you’re not so perfect, you’re not superior, which will make you less judgemental about other people.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, and you said – you just talked about this – but thinking of the person in the best light, that they’re generous and caring or thinking that they’re good-looking. You know, thinking that will help your energy show up in a different way to potentially persuade them.

Robert Greene:              It will alter the dynamic.

Lewis Howes:                 Of the conversation, right.

Robert Greene:              I have a story in there, in the next chapter, of this great Russian writer Chekhov, who came from the poorest circumstances. His father beat him every day, he lived in the most miserable village in Russia.

Then his family abandoned him to go to Moscow and left him alone in this village. And he said, “God, I could have been the most bitter person, hating everybody and hating my life, and I don’t want to let that happen to me.” It’s a chapter about how you have to change your attitude.

“Instead, I’m going to accept my father, I’m going to learn to love him. He grew up under terrible circumstances. He’s beating me, because his father beat him. I’m going to understand him, and I’m going to accept him, and I’m going to love him. I’m going to do the same about my mother, I’m going to do the same about my alcoholic brother.”

And then he moved to Moscow to be with them, and he moved into this house with eight people who were miserable, fighting, bitter, hating, toxic, and his attitude, and his acceptance of them completely altered everything.

He got his father out of the house and into a better job. He got his siblings to start reading and to think of higher things than just their petty feelings. He changed the dynamic by how he thought of them.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! One person can change the whole dynamic. Or the whole dynamic can change one person. And you say that when you want to persuade someone, they can’t feel like they’re being coerced or manipulated, they must choose to do whatever it is you want them to do, or they must at least experience it as their choice.

Robert Greene:              Well, this is a key to this particular chapter, but it’s a key to the whole book, is, people have, what I call, a self opinion. They have a way that they look at themselves. There are three universals to this self opinion, practically every human being has them.

Number one, we all think that we’re autonomous, that when we make a decision, we weren’t manipulated, we did it on our own, we’re independent. Number two, that we’re intelligent, that we’re mart, that we know what we’re doing.

It doesn’t mean that you feel like you’re an intellectual, a plumber thinks that he knows plumbing better than anyone and that makes him feel like he’s intelligent in his own way. And he third is that we’re good people, that we treat people well.

And none of these might be true, but we all tend to believe them, that that’s who we are. Then there’ll be other components to that. “Oh, I’m a very independent, self-reliant person,” or, “I am a great rebel, I’m anti-authoritarian,” et cetera, et cetera.

So, you have an opinion about yourself, and if someone says something that challenges that opinion of yourself, inadvertently, if they make you feel like you’re kind of stupid, or you don’t know what you’re talking about, or that you’re doing something because you were manipulated, that you didn’t choose to do it, or that you’re really not such a good person, we will suddenly get extremely defensive and closed off.

And nothing you will ever say or do will change that. It can even turn into hatred or some bitter feelings. Most of the time we’re going around and we’re not doing that but we’re not necessarily feeding people’s self opinion.

The number one need that humans have, and I want you to remember this, is to feel validated by other people.

Lewis Howes:                 That’s the number one need?

Robert Greene:              The number one need. William James, the great psychologist said this, it’s not just me. People want to feel recognised and validated by other people. We can feel good about ourselves, but if we don’t get that from other people, if they don’t validate that we’re smart, intelligent, independent, it’s hard to feel that, so we’re all craving that validation.

Lewis Howes:                 Constantly.

Robert Greene:              Constantly. If you’re able to give people some of that validation, if you’re able to feed their self opinion without being a flatterer, because people do have good qualities and you can actually recognise them, but if you can validate their self opinion, suddenly their defences go down and you have room to manoeuvre them, to persuade them, and to influence them.

Lewis Howes:                 You’re talking about being ally to their insecurities, and you say, by praising and flattery is a great strategy, like you just said, but not, there’s praise and strategy, but then there’s manipulation. So, what’s the dance between the two?

Robert Greene:              Well, if you flatter someone and it’s clear that you’re after something, you’ve already violated their self opinion, because it’s clear that you think that they’re someone who can be manipulated.

So, you’re telling them, “Oh, you’re not so independent as you think. I can trick you,” and that doesn’t work, if we see through some obvious flattery.

Lewis Howes:                 You can’t flatter someone and then say, “Oh, can you do this for me?” right afterwards.

Robert Greene:              That’s pretty obvious, yeah. But, also, if you flatter someone about something that everybody flatters them about, then it’s clear what you’re after, you’re doing something. So, you want to find those qualities that no one’s been flattering them about, but that they feel insecure about.

Lewis Howes:                 Uncertain about.

Robert Greene:              Right. What would that be for you, Lewis?

Lewis Howes:                 Oh, man! Probably that I’m a good writer, you know? It’s like, I believe that I’m a good writer, but it’s like, I’m not as good as you, I’m not like a Ryan Holiday.

Robert Greene:              So, now all of your listeners know that.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah! So they’ll, tell me, “You have a great book, Lewis! I loved reading it!”

Robert Greene:              “Your writing is amazing! On Ryan’s level, completely!”

Lewis Howes:                 Exactly!

Robert Greene:              So, to get to that point , though, you have to understand people, you have to see who they are, you have to understand what their insecurities would be. Generally, you don’t want to flatter people about what everybody else is flattering them about. It’s too obvious.

So, for instance, a person will be very Machiavellian, very clever and strategic, and if you flatter them about that, thinking that you know who they are, et cetera, you’re actually going to insult them, because they don’t want to think of themselves as being Machiavellian. They think that they’re doing these things for a good cause, for a good reason.

So, you want to find a different avenue, a different way of approaching them, to say, “Wow, you won that election, and you’re going to do great things with it!” Flattering their values, their sense of goodness.

Lewis Howes:                 The impact [they’re] making, how [they’re] helping people.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 I think it’s figuring that out and the way you do that is by being a good listener, I think, and a good observer. By not just observing the obvious, but observing the unobvious. And you have to get out of your own self to be interested in somebody else.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, all these things are interconnected, that we’ve been talking about.

Lewis Howes:                 Exactly. And then you talk about using people’s resistance and stubbornness. Most often, people with deeper levels of insecurity and low self opinion.

Robert Greene:              Well, this is tricky. This is kind of advanced influence.

Lewis Howes:                 Advanced seduction.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, yeah. It’s basically reverse psychology. And the best example is like a rebellious teenager, who doesn’t want to do their homework, who doesn’t want to be told what to do. You have to realise that you telling them what to do just feeds into their rebellious nature, and just makes them more defensive.

But if you go with their resistance, and go with their feeling of being a rebel, you can actually work within their mindset and get them to change.

I have an example of a student who was thrown out of school because he’s not studying hard enough, and the teacher says he’s going to have to do all of this work at home in order to graduate, but, “I can’t have him in school,” because he’s dealing drugs, et cetera, and the kid is like, “I’m not going to study at all. I’m just going to be a slacker.”

And his mother went to a psychologist who trained her about how to use reverse psychology, and said, “Look, you trying to get him to study will make him worse. Try this approach. Try telling him that the teacher wants him to fail, the teacher gave him all of this work, knowing that he wouldn’t succeed, because he knows you’re a slacker.

And if you could prove him wrong, can you imagine how great that will feel, to show [him] up? So, if you study hard and actually graduate, you’ll make him look like a fool.” And it worked.

Lewis Howes:                 It worked? Wow! Proving people wrong is some of the most powerful energy and fire that I think humans have. I think that was my entire life, was proving everyone wrong. Like kids who made fun of me and bullies and the guy who sexually abused me. It was like, “I’m going to prove everyone wrong,” and it worked.

Robert Greene:              Wow! Powerful motivator!

Lewis Howes:                 It worked, until it didn’t. Until I realised, “Man, I’m still suffering inside. I’m not fulfilled.” And it wasn’t until about five years ago, when I started opening up about everything I was insecure about or holding onto and frustrated about. When I realised, “Okay, yeah, that got me to where I’m at and it helped me accomplish a lot of things, but I’m still unfulfilled.”

And when I started to say, “How can I prove people right, and lift other people up, whether they doubted me or hurt me or not, and focus on that energy, that’s when I became so much more fulfilled, so much more peaceful.

Robert Greene:              That’s amazing!

Lewis Howes:                 And more driven, to impact more people, as opposed to prove a handful of people wrong.

Robert Greene:              That’s right. Well, a lot of what I’m talking about in the book is your ability to be aware of yourself, and honest with yourself, and say that this isn’t ultimately fulfilling, and that what I think is the strong thing is actually a weakness of mine, and I’m going to work against that.

That’s sort of the whole point of the book, is knowing who you are, knowing your weaknesses, knowing what really motivates you. Because it was your self-awareness that made you able to change.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, and my self-awareness in the beginning, for thirty years, was like, this was the way I needed to be in order for me to achieve.

Robert Greene:              Was there a particular experience that provoked this.

Lewis Howes:                 I mean, I was sexually abused, when I was five, by a man; my brother was in prison for four years, and I didn’t have friends during that time, because the neighbourhood parents wouldn’t let their kids hang out with me. I was in the special needs classes all through elementary school and had a tutor through college, because I couldn’t read and write.

So, you know, just feeling very insecure around everything. I wasn’t a good student. I didn’t learn in the structure that school was built, for us. I learned from sports. So I put all my energy into proving people wrong in sports, because I could learn from moving my body, from listening to a coach and applying it right then, and failing and learning.

That structure was a better format for learning for me.

Robert Greene:              But was there something that happened five years ago that triggered?

Lewis Howes:                 Oh, yeah! Five years ago I started – I write about this in my book, The Mask Of Masculinity, and talked about it many times – but, I had a bad fight. I was playing basketball, down the street, pick up game with a bunch of people, and got in a bad fight, like a real fist fight, and blood everywhere.

And I had an awakening right afterwards, of fear. It was like, “What did I just do?”

Robert Greene:              Were you the instigator?

Lewis Howes:                 We were both kind of the instigators. He hit me first, but we were talking trash the whole game, and hard fouling, and, you know, playing a hard game. But he actually hit me first, but I could have defused the situation as any time. I could have backed away, I could have been calmer, all these things.

Robert Greene:              So, that made you reassess yourself?

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, it made me realise I had achieved all these things, I was successful, or whatever, with these accomplishments, but I was, like, “Why am I still angry? Why am I still reactive to this nonsense, that’s nothing? It’s a little pick up basketball game! And yet I take it so personally, and feel like this person is attacking my masculinity, my manhood, my life, my credibility, everything.

So I would defend myself, any time somebody said anything negative about me, I had to defend myself. It was kind of like my whole life, though. Now, I was a joyful, happy, guy, but when that happened, it was a trigger.

And my friend was, like, “I don’t want to hang out with you any more,” because he was there. He was, like, “Every time we play basketball, you get in a fight, or you react, or you say something, or you shove someone,” or whatever.

And so I said, “I need to take a look at my life,” and I started going to workshops, I started doing emotional intelligence training, I started working with therapists of all different types, and I was just like, “I need to see what’s the root of this.”

Robert Greene:              Well, the key here, is the decision that you were not going to let this become a pattern, and a lot of people could have reacted the opposite way.

Lewis Howes:                 That’s it, right.

Robert Greene:              What makes you different from others, is something someone could write a whole book about.

Lewis Howes:                 I’m a student of life, too. I always want to learn, and I realised that was something that was holding me back. I had achieved a certain level  of success or results, but I still couldn’t sleep at night. I was still hurting inside. I was still unfulfilled, and I was like, “I thought once you achieved these things you felt better!”

Like, “These are dreams that I’ve had for years, why don’t I feel good now?” And the thing was, I had turned thirty, I was going through a break-up, and it was a relationship that I moved here for, in L.A.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, I remember that.

Lewis Howes:                 I was in a business break-up as well, with my partner, and I was, like, “Huh! I’m the common denominator for everything going wrong in my life.”

Robert Greene:              So, you saw your own patterns?

Lewis Howes:                 I saw it. And I think that was my, not near death experience, of getting in this fight, but it was like an awakening.

Robert Greene:              Sometimes it takes something physical. Like, you could feel the fist on your face, and you knew the feeling of shame, and those are powerful chemical reactions that you’ll feel twenty years from now. So, that can wake you up. Hopefully it doesn’t take that much for other people, but sometimes it does.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, I know, sometimes it does. And luckily the guy was fine. I mean, there was blood everywhere and everything, but the police station was right across the street and I was just, like, “I could lose everything!” Like, what if this guy had a knife? What if he pressed charges? You know? It’s like, “What’s the point of this?”

Robert Greene:              You see, this is something I talk about in the book a lot, there’s almost, like, a stranger inside of you; a person who acts and you don’t even know who they are. In those moments you’re not Lewis. “Who is this?”

And it could happen tomorrow still, where you could ge into a situation where that will happen. And where does that come from? Well, there are things like that in everybody, where certain circumstances, certain events, will trigger something in you and you’ll act in a way that you don’t even understand.

Like, “I never did that before, why am I dong this? Why am I falling in love with the absolute worst woman I could possibly involve in my life? Why am I taking this career path that’s making me miserable? Why am I getting into fights? Why am I suddenly getting angry?”

I’m saying that these are forces inside of you – human nature – that you don’t understand and that are compelling you to behave in certain ways, and your only way outside is to understand what’s going on inside of you.

Lewis Howes:                 And that’s why this book is so important. You have so many other great chapters in here. I want to ask you a couple more questions and then we can wrap it up. You know, this one on, ‘Advance With A Sense Of Purpose’, there’s a law you talk about, the law of aimlessness.

And I think, for me, having a clear vision, or at least a vision that you think is clear for a certain amount of time, is one of the most powerful things we can have. Because, if we are aimless, we’re screwed, I feel like.

Robert Greene:              Yeah. Well, the problem for human beings is, you know, an animal, a cat or a dog, they don’t have to wake up in the morning and decide what they’re going to do. “Oh, am I going to eat this food? Am I going to go for a walk?” or whatever. Their life is sort of programmed by who they are genetically, et cetera.

We humans don’t have that kind of programming. We are not given any kind of natural guidance in life. We could wake up and we could not go to work tomorrow. We could suddenly do whatever we wanted if we felt so inclined.

So we have to create our own sense of purpose, and that purpose can’t come from the outside. If your parents tell us we should do this, this , and this, or a teacher tells us, it’s not going to connect to something deep within us, and it might work for a while, but when we’re twenty-five, we’ll feel empty and hollow because it’s not something from within, and we lose…

Lewis Howes:                 It’s not our path.

Robert Greene:              Yeah. So, the trick in life is figuring out what you were meant to do. This is something I go into in great depth, in Mastery – in chapter one in Master, but also in this book. Every human is different, every human has a different genetic code, their brains are wired differently, no two people have the same parents who raised them a certain way.

You’re different. You have something very unique about you. That uniqueness exists for a purpose. If you follow that, if you use your uniqueness in some way, you will create something probably pretty interesting and pretty great.

But if you follow what everyone else is doing, you will be like everyone else. You will become a lawyer because your parents say you should, and when you’re twenty-nine you’ll feel you won’t feel connected to it, and you’ll see that there are eight million other lawyers doing the same thing, and you’ll be thirty-two and you’ll be drinking and you’ll gain weight and your life will go downhill from there.

Lewis Howes:                 Is this your life?

Robert Greene:              No! [Laughs] Could have been, could have been. My parents would have liked for me to become a doctor or a lawyer. So, how do you find that voice – I call it a voice – that’s telling you who you are and what you need to do?

Lewis Howes:                 How do you find it?

Robert Greene:              Well, it’s listening, first of all. So, when you were young, you were generally attracted to certain activities, or pursuits. I call it, in Mastery, primal inclinations. It’s a voice inside of you, saying, “You should do this, you’re attracted to that. There’s  book that I recommend by a man named Howard Gardner, called, ‘[Multiple Intelligences]’.

He mentions that there are five forms of intelligence, one that has to do with mathematics, patterns; one that is kinetic, with sports; one is social, and to do with people; one has to do with words; there’s a fifth one, I don’t remember.

Everyone has a brain that is inclined towards one of the five. That’s like your main strength. For you, it might have been kinetic, which was sports and activity and physical action. We tend to emphasise in our culture, intellectual as a form of intelligence, but being really good with your hands, or being really good at sports, is a form of intelligence.

You are naturally drawn to one of these five forms, you have to know what that is. And when you were very young, you felt naturally drawn to certain things. When I was a kid, I was drawn to words. I was obsessed with language and words, and I was obsessed with strategy, with warfare, and war games, and sports.

And so, eventually, that’s sort of what I ended up doing. Tiger woods, when he was a year and a half old, saw his father hitting golf balls in the garage, and he went berserk! He felt this primal attraction to it.

I have many examples of famous people. You probably had that in your life, but as you get older, you start listening to your friends, your teacher, your parents, and you’re not hearing that voice any more, and all you’re hearing is what other people think you should be, what they think is cool. And you lose connection to what makes you unique.

And who you are, your uniqueness, is your source of power. The further you deviate form that uniqueness, the weaker you will become, you will become like other people. So, the game in life, is to know who you are, to gather skills and train yourself and be disciplined and, by the time you’re the age of thirty, you have a lot of creative energy, and you’re able to take all the things that you’ve learned and create something unique, like your School of Greatness.

I was thirty-six when I started writing The 48 Laws Of Power, so it took me a little bit longer than that.

Lewis Howes:                 Well, you obsess a little bit more over things, that’s why. You’re a perfectionist. You let that get in the way.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, that’s right. Well, I had a little more failure than most people have. It took me a little longer, I’m a little slow.

Lewis Howes:                 Okay, well, it worked [to] your advantage. That’s powerful, I like that. So, lean into the things that you were curious about as a kid, and go back into one of those five things, figure out what it is. And start pursuing that more.

Robert Greene:              Also, know what you don’t like. You don’t like working in  group where everything is political. Well then, maybe you need to be an entrepreneur and work for yourself and start your own business. So, the things that you dislike show you a lot about who you are.

Lewis Howes:                 I like that a lot, because I think a lot of people right now have too many options, “I’m passionate about everything! How do I know which direction to go?” And that’s like a downfall in itself. It’s like we’re all figuring out how to choose one direction.

There are people who don’t know what their passion is, and they’re like, “How do I find my passion?” and there’s people who have lots of passions, and they’re basically in the same boat. You’re not doing anything.

Robert Greene:              That’s right.  And it’s hard, because, especially with the internet and all the access to information, you get excited about so many things, it’s like, “Oh, I could direct a film! Oh, I could write a screenplay! Oh, I could win a political election!” Et cetera.

No, you can’t. You can’t do everything, you’re not meant to do everything, you are not Leonardo da Vinci. There are probably one or two or three things that you need to focus on, but you need to find that thing to focus on.

Focusing on one activity is not something that should frighten you, it should liberate you. Because, by developing solid skills in one area, you now have power to maybe branch out to something else and combine different skills if you aren’t somebody – if you’re somebody who gets easily bored with just one straight path, you can follow this path of doing different things, but you have to master each level before you can advance.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. And if you are scattered in your passions or your direction or your vision, you will influence less people. The more powerful you become in one area, the more influential you become, with lots of people. Isn’t that right?

Robert Greene:              That’s right.

Lewis Howes:                 We’ll finish with this topic and then I’ll ask you my final couple of questions, because there are a lot of people looking to build a business, or build a following with social media, and you have a chapter which says, ‘Make Them Want To Follow You.’

How do we make people want to follow us, whether it be offline, online, buying into our business, our products our services, our books, following us on social media, listening to our podcasts – how do we do that?

Robert Greene:              Yeah, well, you have to understand human nature.

Lewis Howes:                 That’s the key. Understand human nature, yes.

Robert Greene:              People don’t want to be forced or coerced or manipulated. They want to feel that they’re coming to something on their own. So, if you create this podcast and you go out there and you get all this advertising, et cetera, and you force people, you force yourself down people’s throats with your presence, they go, “Ah, this guy’s trying too hard, I’m not so interested.”

But if you create a viral buzz, where, instead of you promoting yourself, I go out and go, “Wow, Lewis was the best interviewer,” which you are, you are one of the best interviewers around. I believe that.

Lewis Howes:                 Thank you, I appreciate it.

Robert Greene:              And I realise, because, over six years ago I remember.

Lewis Howes:                 Thanks!

Robert Greene:              If I’m the one going out and promoting you, suddenly that carries so much more power. So, you have to understand that. This is the chapter about leadership. Often, as a leader, your impulse is to yell at people and make them do things, do your bidding, and that creates defensive and bitter people.

You want them to want to join your force, to join the group, to follow the group’s path, to get into line, on their own, of their own volition, they follow you. And so, you have to understand that, first of all, you’re dealing with individuals, you can’t compel, you have three people who work for you, you can’t do the same with each person, you have to play into their psychology.

You have to create a cause. People don’t want to feel like they’re doing something for money. It’s kind of soulless and mercenary. If, “Oh, I’m going to listen to Lewis’ podcast, because I’m going to become a millionaire,” well you’ll get some people , but a lot of people will find that kind of empty.

But if you say, “You listen to my podcast, and you’re going to help humanity, you’re going to change the world, you’re going to feel great about yourself,” people are going to love you. You’re appealing to things that motivate people.

So, you have to understand that, and you have to get them to join a cause. Basically, I mean, I have more things in the chapter, but…

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, yeah, that’s the essence of it. You talk also about a ‘dark shadow’? Is that what you call it? A ‘shadow side’? A ‘dark shadow’?

Robert Greene:              A shadow side.

Lewis Howes:                 What does that mean?

Robert Greene:              Well, your shadow side came out in the basketball court very clearly.

Lewis Howes:                 Yes, the Incredible Hulk.

Robert Greene:              It’s a very important concept. Basically it means when we were children, we were two or three years old, we were a complete individual. We felt all this range of emotions: anger, hate, love, joy, depression, and we tended to express it as children often do.

Lewis Howes:                 All the time, right?

Robert Greene:              Yeah, and then our parents intervened, because a child who just always does what he wants and expresses it can be kind of irritating, you want to sleep and you have your own cares. So you’re telling the child, “Stop that behaviour, stop being like that. Be a good boy, be a good girl and study harder.”

And so, you start to repress certain qualities in yourself in order to please your parents, in order to please other people. Those qualities could be your aggressiveness, your natural assertiveness, it could be your dramatic tendencies.

Lewis Howes:                 Your theatre nature.

Robert Greene:              Your theatre nature, you kind of repress them, you try to be something that will please other people. And as you repress that other part of your character, it goes into what we call ‘the shadow’. It doesn’t disappear, nothing ever disappears. It just is not immediately visible.

It forms the dark side of your character. There’s the moon that we see in the sky, then there’s the dark side of the moon that we don’t see. But the dark side of the moon does exist, it’s still there, we just don’t see it.

Everybody has their dark side, and it comes from these qualities that were repressed when we were younger, and it will come out, later in life, in sudden bursts of anger, like you on the basketball field. Or it’ll come out in a relationship.

For instance, you might have felt that your parents didn’t really love you. And you had an irrational fear that they would abandon you, and then you form a relationship later, with a woman, and she’s slightly cold to you. But not for any reasons that have to do with you ,maybe she’s in a bad mood.

You assume that she’s about to abandon you, because you have that fear, and you lash out and you get angry and you basically instigate a break-up, in advance, because you don’t want to deal with that pain of going through it.

You don’t want to be abandoned, you want to be the one abandoning. Well, that’s your shadow side coming out. Everybody has it and you’ll notice it when people do something that seems out of character. They will lash out, they will get angry, they will do something self-destructive. They will say , as we sad, earlier, “Oh, that’s not me, something came over me.”  But no, that is them, that is their shadow acting out.

That person on the basketball court, wasn’t somehow Mr X who suddenly invaded Lewis’ body. It was Lewis.

Lewis Howes:                 It was me, yeah.

Robert Greene:              More Lewis than what we normally see. Normally we see the nice pleasant Lewis. The real Lewis suddenly came out on that basketball court and you saw it. Well, everybody has that. And you want to see that in people, you want to see their shadow and understand that they’re not as nice and wonderful as they say they are.

Not to judge them, but to be aware. And you want to see your own shadow so that you can use it, so you can be aware of it, so you can overcome it.

Lewis Howes:                 Wow! What’s your shadow side?

Robert Greene:              That’s a good question. I’ve had to deal a little bit with my shadow side now, because I suffered a stroke about two months ago, and my shadow side, is, I feel I have an incredible need to be independent and self-reliant. And if I don’t feel that way, if I feel like I am trapped and I can’t do something, I get really angry, and really can be vicious and violent.

So, the sense that something is stripping me or stepping on my independence or autonomy can trigger that Lewis Howes basketball reaction.

Lewis Howes:                 The Hulk comes out.

Robert Greene:              The Hulk comes out.

Lewis Howes:                 So your wife and everybody has to suffer that, huh?

Robert Greene:              Well I’ve had to deal with it. I’ve had to deal with the fact that I am dependent, that I am like a baby right now, that I have to rely on people, but there are also things that I can do for myself still, but they’re small things. That’s part of it.

And then the other shadow side is the hyper-perfectionist in me that’s always trying to please and make the absolute perfect book.

Lewis Howes:                 Well, they’re pretty amazing! They’re pretty amazing! So it’s paying off in some ways, but at what cost, also? What’s the price you have to pay with that shadow, I guess, right?

Robert Greene:              Well, yes, but you know, as I said before when we were first talking, I’ll take that price because I created something that I wanted to do. I did something that meant a lot to me, and I knew I was kind of hurting myself, physically.  But I still did it.

It’s like you’re going off to war – what will make a person, a man or woman go into battle? I mean, you could die.

Lewis Howes:                 A greater purpose.

Robert Greene:               Yeah, you give your body – or a football player – you give up your body for something greater, and that’s not a bad feeling.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah. What’s the thing you’re most proud of that most people don’t know about?

Robert Greene:              Wow! Huh! Well, I don’t like tooting my own horn. I don’t like saying how wonderful I am.

Lewis Howes:                 If you had to, what’s the thing that you’re most proud of?

Robert Greene:              Well, you know what? People assume, because I wrote The 48 Laws Of Power, they have this image that I’m kind this asshole. That I’m sort of this manipulative, Machiavellian asshole, who goes around trying to get the better of people, that I know every trick in the book, and if I’m late for a meeting, I’m doing that on purpose because I’m playing some game.

Lewis Howes:                 Strategy, yeah.

Robert Greene:              And, actually, I’m a really nice person. I’m kind of a puppy. I not like that at all. I can be tough when I have to be. Kind of like my father. My father was a really nice person. He wasn’t weak, but he was just really nice, so I don’t know if I’m proud of that, but sort of a side of me that people don’t know. I’m not as much an asshole as they think I am.

Lewis Howes:                 Yeah, that’s good! Good to be proud of being a nice guy. Your shadow side is the manipulative strategist that comes out.

Robert Greene:              That’s right, that’s right, that’s actually more accurate. That would be my shadow side, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 Ah, there you go! What’s the question that you wish more people would ask you, that they never ask?

Robert Greene:              Wow.

Lewis Howes:                 Any time you get Robert Greene to say wow, that’s a good sign.

Robert Greene:              Man, you see, the problem for me is, my books cover so many different topics that people generally ask about everything. I mean, because I’ve spent my whole life listening to other people and writing about other people, I don’t really talk about myself very much, so, sort of taking about my own experiences and how I formed myself.

I did that in a TED Talk and it was very difficult for me, it’s very unnatural. But in this TED Talk, I discussed how I arrived at where I am right now, and that’s something I don’t get to talk a lot about,

Because I don’t like to talk about myself that much. But that’s a question I don’t get so much.

Lewis Howes:                 How you arrived where you’re at right now?

Robert Greene:              Yeah, how I ended up writing the kind of books that I write.

Lewis Howes:                 I remember you telling me about this six years ago, where you had done a lot of different things that were all failures. I think you were a newspaper writer, or a screenplay writer, moving in all these different things, and you were, like, 70% good at all of them but they weren’t really that great, and then you al kind of magically showed up at thirty-six to writing this different book that no one really wanted, but then it was a big hit.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, because the thing was, back to this thing about uniqueness, that we were talking about, I’ve never felt like I was like other people. I’ve always felt like an oddball. I never did what my parents told me to do, I left college and went and lived in Europe.

I mean, I graduated but I lived in Europe and I just wandered around. I never listened to what people told me to do. So, when it came time to writing this book, this man who was my partner in writing it, who packaged it, he asked me if I had an idea for a book, and I explained my ideas about power. I decided to make it something very weird and unique .

Lewis Howes:                 Different than what was in the market.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, like, you can hate The 48 Laws Of Power, but honestly, no one has ever written a book like that. The structure with the stories, the sections, the quotes, the things on the sides, and I got a lot of grief for that.

The publishers go, “I don’t think this will work, and we want you to change it, we want it to be more like other books.” And so, I stuck to my guns and said, “No, I’m going to go down, sinking, with who I am. If this works, it’s because I’m weird and I’m unique.” And then it succeeded.

And then, after The 48 Laws Of Power, the logical thing was to put The 48 Laws Of Power Part Two, and just sort of mine what I had already done. So, no, I’m going to go in a new direction. So I’m constantly challenging myself and following my own path.

I’m a weirdo, and people don’t realise, maybe, how weird I really am. Only my wife kind of knows how truly weird I am. Maybe that’s the answer to your question, how truly strange and weird I am.

Lewis Howes:                 Sure. But that’s the path to achieving something great, is leaning into your uniqueness.

Robert Greene:              I think so. I mean, you could go too far with that.

Lewis Howes:                 Right, but you’ve still got to reach the masses in some way.

Robert Greene:              I could have written poetry.

Lewis Howes:                 Well, there are poets right now, who are selling millions of copies. Rupi Kaur, have you seen her?

Robert Greene:              Okay, yeah.

Lewis Howes:                 She old millions of copies, two books, I think, were #1 on the New York Times Bestseller lists, poetry books.

Robert Greene:              I take that back. But if I had written poetry…

Lewis Howes:                 It wouldn’t have been good for you, yeah. This is a question I ask at the end, it’s called The Three Truths. I didn’t ask you this last time, because I didn’t have this question. So, imagine you live as long as you want. You live as many years as you want, but at some point, you get to choose the day that is the last day for you. And you’ve written every book that you can think of. They’ve all been bestsellers, millions of copies, like you’ve already done, and then some.

You’ve done it all, and you say, “Okay, it’s been good, time to go,” and, for whatever reason, you’ve got to take all of your work with you, so no one has access to your work any more, you’ve got to bring it with you. Hypothetical.

But you get to write down, on a piece of paper, the Three Truths from everything that you’ve learned in your life, from all of your books, all of your messages, your work, you insights, all your weirdness that you are, the three things you know to be true about life, and this would be the only thing that you would leave behind for everyone to have.

Robert Greene’s Three Truths, or life lessons, what would you say are your truths?

Robert Greene:              There is a weird kind of law that governs the universe that what you give to the world is sort of what you get, right? So, we are more active than we think we are. We are more responsible for what happens to us than we think we are.

And so, the things that have worked for me in life, are when I’ve sort of been aware of that, and through my attitude, through the pattern of my life, it’s kind of foggy with all of the failures, but overall, there was a reason behind it, there was a purpose, and I followed that purpose, unconsciously. Maybe consciously, to some degree.

And it led to where I am today. But there is something, a feeling that I had that there was something kind of guiding me and I can’t put my finger on it. Something was guiding me to where I ended up today, even from when I was five years old. So I’ve always had a feeling of fate and destiny, for better or for worse, and it happened.

So that’s…

Lewis Howes:                 That’s one.

Robert Greene:              The other truth is that I tend, and other people, tend to be too nice in life. To indulgent with other people, too nice, we don’t ask for enough. We feel like we don’t deserve much in life,et cetera, and we let people push us around.

I was pushed around a lot, because I was sort of a naive writer type, who didn’t understand that there are bad people out there. One of the things I had to learn in life, and that are the source for my work, is that there are bad people out there, and you have to recognise that.

That there are narcissists, that there are aggressive people, that there are passive-aggressive people, that there are enviers, and you have to be aware of that and you have to be strong enough to deal with them, and by not being able to deal with them, your life can be completely ruined.

One awful toxic person, one bad relationship can ruin you for life. You internalise the negative energy. So, the ability to stand up for yourself and to be aware and to understand that not everyone has the best intentions, and that you’ve got to be more strategic and not always kind of just accepting what people give you.

That’s a major source of wisdom for me and all of my books come from a bit of anger, you know? And I think the reader can feel the anger in them. Anger is kind of an intoxicating emotion. I even talk in the book how it can be a positive emotion.

When my writing is angry, it’s very real, and you can feel it. So I have been able to take that sense of there are people out there who are hurtful and use that anger and turn it into something positive, into a book. That was sort of the second.

Lewis Howes:                 The final truth.

Robert Greene:              The final truth, I’d say one thing was – it’s kind of related to some of the other things I’ve said, and I did write a book about this – but it has to do with the role of fear in my life and what I’ve been afraid of.

I come from a background of my parents were somewhat anxious, somewhat fearful people, and I tend to internalise that, to worry about what will happen next, whether people will like me. And to the degree that I overcame that fear and did something bold and unusual, I’ve kind of become more of who I am and I’ve achieved things.

So, I’ve always been one to confront my fears. I have great fears now, of walking, because if I fall, and it’s very easy for me to fall, I could be finished, you know? I’ll break something and then my stroke will, I’ll never get over it. I’ve got to get over that and keep walking and walking, get over my fear.

I was afraid of being alone, or being in a situation I had no control over, so when I was twenty-two years old, I went and lived on the island of Crete in Greece, with a backpack, and sleeping in caves and kind of being alone and sort of cutting myself off from the world.

It was something I greatly feared, and so I overcame that fear. So, the ability for me to confront what I’m most afraid of, has been a great source of power. I’m not great at it. There’s so many fears that haunt me, but instead of giving in to them, always confronting them, and moving past them.

Lewis Howes:                 So, confront your fears. Wow, that’s powerful!

Robert Greene:              Did I cover three?

Lewis Howes:                 You covered three. Those are beautiful. Make sure you guys get this book, The Laws Of Human Nature. It’s out right now, very powerful, I recommend getting a couple of copies to give to friends as well, because the key to life is relationships, and this is the key to understanding people and understanding how to be better in relationships.

So, get this book, it’s going to transform the way you move through life. We can follow you on Instagram, Twitter?  Where do you spend time on?

Robert Greene:              Well, we have a website, which everything is funnelled into, I’ve had it for years. It’s, those are my first three books.

Lewis Howes:                 Power Seduction And War dot com.

Robert Greene:              You’ll find there are sites for Mastery and for the new book.

Lewis Howes:                 Great and are you spending time on social media at all, or no?

Robert Greene:              Yeah, I’m on Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, but I’m not as active as I should be, but I’m there

Lewis Howes:                 What’s your handle on Instagram?

Robert Greene:              S**t!

Lewis Howes:                 We’ll find it and link it up for people.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, I don’t even know what it is on Twitter, I just have it on my phone.

Lewis Howes:                 We’ll find it. It’s probably your name. It’s all good! Well, I want to acknowledge you, before I ask the final question. I want to acknowledge you, Robert, for constantly showing up and creating masterpieces, because these books truly transform lives, millions of people talk about them, read them, and they improve their life, because of he information that you obsess over, whether that’s good or bad.

But, your ability to dive into a topic, is unbelievable. So, I acknowledge you for your care and attention to detail to impact people’s lives.

Robert Greene:              Thank you, Lewis.

Lewis Howes:                 I just want to make sure you take care of your health moving forward.

Robert Greene:              I’ll try.

Lewis Howes:                 But it’s amazing everything you’ve done. I’m grateful for our friendship over the years. And just, everything that’s happened.

Robert Greene:              Yeah, yeah, yeah. I saw you when you were just a…

Lewis Howes:                 You were on my first episode! So I appreciate you for giving me my first chance of…

Robert Greene:              It was an honour! I’m so proud of you, and everything you’ve done!

Lewis Howes:                 Thank you. The final question is, what is your definition of greatness?

Robert Greene:              It’s kind of what we’ve already talked about. I feel like everybody has the potential for greatness. And greatness would mean something a little bit larger than what you’ve already done, going a little bit beyond what you’ve already created, going a little past your limits.

Great implies size and largeness, and so, everybody has the potential for greatness. I don’t care who you are, or the bad circumstances of you childhood, and greatness is realising your own potential. I don’t care what that is, it could be in being the best possible parent, it could be in using your hands and creating some beautiful work of art and some great bit of craftsmanship.

It could be in writing a book, or in creating a great podcast, but it’s something larger than what you were ten years ago, you’ve expanded your boundaries, you’ve expanded your own limits, you’ve pushed them a little bit further.

So, to me, that’s greatness. I made this a circle, I didn’t explain it in the book, because I said, “Human nature kind of contains us. It creates a limit for us. We can’t become a chimpanzee or a sheep, we are human and this is a limiting factor.”

But by knowing the laws of human nature, you can begin to explore a little bit further out, and become something a little bit more. You can take your irrational nature and become more reasonable and rational. Well, pushing a little bit past your limits, and expanding like a balloon, just a little further, that’s greatness, to me. And not accepting, but moving past your own limits.

Lewis Howes:                 Robert Greene. Thank you, man.

Robert Greene:              Thank you, Lewis. Thank you, that was great.

Lewis Howes:                 There you have it, my friends! I hope you enjoyed this one. I was blown away and I felt like I could have gone on this interview for hours, because we just scratched the surface of what’s possible in understanding human nature, and how to master yourself, and really understand how to connect with all types of people in all walks of life.

To get them to buy into your vision more, to get them to relate to you more, to build better quality relationships with people. Life is about relationships, and the quality of your life, is dictated and determined, based on the quality of your relationships that you have with other people.

So, how are you showing up? Are you showing up constantly with a negative attitude, and constantly surrounded by toxic people? If you have toxic people in your life, you need to re-evaluate this, re-listen to this and learn the steps on how to move those toxic people from your life, and take responsibility for what you’ve caused to attract them.

Make sure you guys pick up a copy of the book the full link to the book and all the information about Robert, is at So, go there, you’ll get links to the book. Tag me on Instagram, @LewisHowes, and let’s stay connected. I want to hear your thoughts on this because it is a powerful one.

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Hey guys! Many of you have heard me talk about this amazing event I just participated in. It’s called 29029. It was one of the most incredible weekends of my life, but also one of the most physically demanding and I first heard about 29029 from my friend, Jesse Itzler, who puts this on.

Now, he’s been on the podcast a couple of times, he’s a freak athlete himself, and just an all round good guy, and he told me it was a unique experience that I had to try out.

And it was the equivalent of climbing, vertically, Mount Everest, over two days. He said it was totally doable, and extremely hard, and he asked me to come do it. And I thought I could do this without any training. Well, I have to say, it was one of the hardest things I’ve done, but also so amazing.

It was challenging, it was different, and it was life changing all in one, and the only way I can really explain it is, it was part networking , part fitness challenge, and part get-to-know-myself type of a gut check.

So, here’s what it is: These guys literally rent out a mountain. An entire mountain, and they set up these amazing tents that you sleep in and create a private village or base camp experience that everyone stays at.

They bring in the food, the speakers, everything you need, they have it. Think like a festival meets endurance event. And here’s the challenge: You hike up the mountain, take the gondola down,and repeat. And you do that until you’ve climbed the vertical equivalent of Mount Everest, 29,029ft, and you’ve got 36 hours of time to do it.

Now, they provide all the accommodations, which are first class, the training guides, world class coaches, massage therapy, swag, and an intro into an amazing group of people. I’ve had several business conversations during those hikes, and met some incredible individuals.

And since I posted this on my Instagram, many of you have been asking me about this. Each event is limited to 200 people, and the one I did in Vermont, was completely sold out. But right now, tickets are on sale for the next two events. One is in Utah, and one is back in Vermont. It’s an investment well worth it.

If there’s anyone interested in doing something different, hard, extremely doable, and one of the coolest things you’ll ever do, then make sure to give this a look, right now. My experience ws powerful and it will stay with me forever.

If you’re interested, text the word ‘EVEREST’, that’s right, text the word ‘EVEREST’, to 444-999 or go to Again, if you’re interested, just text the word ‘EVEREST’, that’s ‘EVEREST’, to 444-999, or check out @jesseitzler, right now.

And Oprah Winfrey said, at the beginning, that, “The greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future, by merely changing his attitude.”

And Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You must do the things you think you cannot do.”

What is your attitude like today? Are you a positive person, or are you fixated on the negative things that are happening around you, that you make excuses about? You have a choice in this moment, of how you want to show up, with your attitude, and you must do the things you think you cannot do.

Robert Greene talked about the fears that you have, the insecurities that you have. Sometimes they feel so overwhelming. You must lean into those fears today, stop wasting time! Stop playing small! Lean into your fears and start to overcome them.

I love you so very much, and you know what time it is: It’s time to go out there and do something great!

Music Credits:


Kaibu by Killercats

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