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No wonder The New Yorker described Greene’s original book as a manual on “how to be a creep”.I ask him if he minds such comments: “Not really,” he chuckles.
Although inspiring overall, some aspects are discouraging.
The level of dedication Greene advocates – 10,000 hours of apprenticeship for example – is impossible for most people.
“My favourite one was a magazine headline that called it ‘Chicken soup for the soulless’.
It’s not a manual on how to be as creepy as possible, it’s a book about what’s going on in the real world.” But does he ever worry that he is making the world a worse place? “That’s a cat’s paw,” he says, referring to my question. Evil or manipulative people don’t need a book, they just do it anyway.
Key is identifying one’s life’s passion, then undertaking an apprenticeship and finding a mentor to guide you.
Greene uses historical ‘masters’ such as Charles Darwin and Mozart as examples, as well as modern ones like the architect Santiago Calatrava.And it’s not only business students who have become devotees.The “bible for atheists”, as Dov Charney, the founder and CEO of American Apparel, has described it, has been embraced by rappers, movie moguls, captains of industry and criminals alike.“I don’t mean to intimidate people with my examples,” says Greene, sipping a cup of tea. Plumbers can be masters, the guy who did my patio is a master, some people are masters at raising really great children.” His first book is likely to remain his most influential.The 48 Laws of Power has sold 1.2 million copies in the United States alone.“Everyone assumes I practise all of my own laws but I don’t.I think anybody who did would be a horrible ugly person to be around,” laughs Greene, who has just written a new book called Mastery, a sort of self-help book on how to fulfil your own intrinsic potential.In the lead, Monica Vitti is an intriguing presence but she has no music in her voice (in fact, she sounds dubbed).Director Losey was in way over his head here, and he drags everyone down with the ship.At the moment I’m helping a university professor who got fired for very ugly political reasons.Also the wife of a very well-known NBA player contacted me recently – she feels she’s lost the limelight and wanted my help thinking about her own career.” When pressed, it appears that Greene takes most of his laws with a healthy pinch of salt.