Laws of Power (5)

So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life.

“Reputation is the cornerstone of power. Through reputation alone you can intimidate and win; once it slips; however, you are vulnerable, and will be attacked on all sides. Make your reputation unassailable. Always be alert to potential attacks and thwart them before they happen. Meanwhile, learn to destroy your enemies by opening holes in their own reputations. Then stand aside and let public opinion hang them” – Green 2002

I’m never been much of a Netflix fan, but university extended me a lot of free time; so I delved into Netflix programs. The only previous Netflix show I had seen before was Breaking Bad – which I highly recommend. I might even write a blog about Walter White’s psychology and how it relates to traders and investments in the stock market. I’ve started to watch House of Cards – I’ve got to say it is one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) uses his reputation to bully and manipulate himself into becoming the President of the United States after he was slighted by the former President (who Underwood got ousted from the White House whilst looking like he did no such thing to the pubic) by being passed over for Secretary of State. The majority of the Cabinet felt as though Frank was the best person for the position; however the former President feared Underwood would upstage him if he gave him that role. Ironically, he underestimated Underwood, and ended up losing his Presidency to Frank. When Underwood’s reputation became shaky, he went as far to kill someone to regain his reputation to an unassailable level once again. He brought down the former President by allowing him to show the public that he can be incompetent at times. This undid the former President, and boosted Frank Underwood into the Presidency role.

Warren Buffet is the prime example for keeping a reputation. He has kept his reputation almost spotless for over 60 years. If one types his name in google, it is full of glowing reviews. The whole investment community – especially long-term or buy and hold investors – see him as the “Grandfather of Investing” and the “Oracle of Omaha” (Forbes 2016). Even Bernie Madoff (his last name cracks me up every time) had to develop an immaculate reputation in order to swindle investors out of billions (Business Insider 2014). Martin Shkreli is the example of what can happen if you ignore Law 5. First he deliberately increases the price of pills (to extortionate rates) which help those suffering from AIDs. If that is not bad enough, he then goes on national TV with a smug smile (almost) boasting about what he has done stating “If people want to live, they will pay more”… how callous. Lastly, he had to pay a $5million bond for being under arrest for Securities Fraud at the end of 2015. The case is still in progress but he is free on bail. The public in general think he is despicable. The good thing (well at least for his mental health) is that he genuinely doesn’t care what other people think of him. Narcissist? Maybe… (Bloomberg 2015)

Therefore I should wish our courtier to bolster up his inherent worth with skill and cunning, and ensure that whenever he has to go where he is a stranger, he is preceded by good reputation. The fame which appears to rest on the opinions of many fosters a certain unshakeable belief in a man’s worth which is then easily strengthened in minds already thus disposed and prepared – Baldassare Castiglione (Green, R., 2002)

References

Bloomberg 2015. Shkreli, Drug Price Gouger, Denies Fraud and Posts Bail. [online] Available:  http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-martin-shkreli-securities-fraud/

Business Insider 2014. 5 Years Ago Bernie Madoff Was Sentenced to 150 Years in Prison = Here’s How His Scheme Worked. [online] Available:  http://www.businessinsider.com/how-bernie-madoffs-ponzi-scheme-worked-2014-7?IR=T

Forbes 2016. Profile: Warren Buffett . [online] Available: http://www.forbes.com/profile/warren-buffett/

Robert Greene, 2002.48 Laws of Power. London: Profile Books Ltd.

 

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