Robert Greene is author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, The 50th Law, and his fifth book, Mastery, which takes a deep dive into the lives of historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford.

This conversation was on the recommendation from Ryan Holiday (if you haven’t had the chance to listen to my conversation with him, it is episode 043).

The reason I wanted to sit down with Robert is obvious — but equally as important as his insights, I wanted to understand what led him to be interested in mastery and power.

He has a wonderful way of being committed to principles, and at the same time, being cognitively nimble and agile – a fantastic combination to explore ideas, and at the same time being grounded.

We talked about everything from Machiavelli to how people have misused his principles on power – to the importance of having a life task.

“The end point of mastery is an intuitive feel for what you are doing where you no longer have to think.”

In This Episode:

  • Being fascinated with Machiavelli, strategy & war at age 14
  • Always wanting to figure things out below the surface level
  • Realizing from an early age that he was meant to write
  • The influence the Samurai culture had on his meditation practice
  • Why he’s interested in Zen Buddhism
  • The Machiavellian vs. Buddhist principles in 48 Laws of Power
  • Why the people who misuse the 48 Laws of Power don’t need to read the book
  • How working in Hollywood spurned his idea for the 48 Laws of Power
  • Why finding your “life’s task” is directly correlated to mastery
  • The purpose of having a craft and what it reveals?
  • His new book on the Laws of Human Nature
  • His knack for being a chameleon
  • Pivoting when the initial dream doesn’t work out
  • Why he cares about the center of the human experience
  • Defining Mastery


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“The most powerful point you can reach in sports and in any kind of endeavor is when you’re one with the moment.”

“Absence has power.”

“Actions tell you who someone is. Not what they say.”

“My concept of mastery is expressing your uniqueness.”

“Half the problems in the world stem from the fact that we’re constantly misinterpreting what others are saying or doing.”

“You have to overcome human nature to be truly human and great.”

“There’s nothing in life you’re going to get without a sacrifice.”

“I exercise everyday because it gets me out of my mind.”

“I’ve learned that sometimes words are not as valuable as sometimes people think.”

“Just staying on the surface of things is very boring.”

“People are infinite puzzles.”


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Author |

Robert Greene is the author of the New York Times bestsellers The 48 Laws of Power, The Art of Seduction, The 33 Strategies of War, and The 50th Law. His fifth book, Mastery, examines the lives of great historical figures such as Charles Darwin, Mozart, Paul Graham and Henry Ford and distills the traits and universal ingredients that made them masters.