Power and Game


I was listening to a podcast from The Invisible Hand (mentioned in an earlier post). The podcast concerned the book “Power: Why Some People Have It and Others Don’t“.

I have not read it, but it sounds a bit like The Mystery Method for business. More correctly, it could be called the Roissarian (Rengadian? Chateavian?) view of management. Actually I would like to think it is the Defaultian view as it appears to match my belief that some sociopathy is good, whether for business or pleasure.
[I have a loose essay on the advantages of sociopathic behavior rolling around my head. A Recent Sonic Charmer post covered slightly similar ground in that the skills he apportions to lefties sound like those used to obtain power.]

The book describes what you really need to move up within hierarchical organizations. It is not intelligence, performance, or likeability. From reading the book description and some of the Amazon comments, it sounds a bit like “be an asshole.” At the very least “niceness” may harm you (in the podcast the author offers an example of how a nice person may harm themselves by offering assistance to a competitor for promotion).

Some other hints include “cultivating a reputation for control and authority, and perfecting a powerful demeanor . . . how to sharpen one’s “acting” skills on the job, and use tactics like interruption to appear more powerful.”

Sounds like game to me.

If anyone has read the book I would love to hear your comments.

You can listen to the podcast at:

11 Responses to “Power and Game”

  1. David Foster Says:

    The characteristics that lead to success vary widely from organization to organization, and even within the same organization at different times and under different conditions. The individuals who get promoted in the peacetime army, for instance, are not necessarily the ones who do well once the shooting starts–IIRC, when the US entered WWII, General Marshall found it necessary to replace a very high % of division-level commanders.
    [Interesting. I guess at some point a good network is just not good enough]

  2. asdf Says:

    Good Lord, now we’re going to have to game our friends and co-workers too. What happened to competence?

    With women at least you have the excuse of saying that they don’t know what’s really good for them, so you game them. But what’s the excuse for doing this in a business? I mean I know the ship is sinking but do we really want to bring it down even faster?

  3. PA Says:

    Good Lord, now we’re going to have to game our friends and co-workers too. What happened to competence?

    The need to ‘game’ at work has always been the case. There was an off-the-cuff related observation in the late Czeslaw Milosz’s autobiography, set in 1930s Warsaw,that always stuck with me. I read this way before I ever heard of Game or Roissy. Milosz wrote that the key to full professional success is a mix of hard work and impudence. Sounds like defact Game.

    Competence alone will probably assure that you will not be fired, and will ge generally liked by your co-workers, assuming you don’t get taken advantae of and your copetence is noticed. But adding Game is how you will be respected and will advance.

    The thing I’ve said about Game is that it’s just a new name and systemization for the oldest thing in humanity: method of seduction and power.

  4. PA Says:

    As far as gaming friends: duh! guys bust each otehrs’ balls all the time, and girls ‘poke’ at guys with cute littel provications. What do you do, even in the most innocuous of such situations? you say something funny or bust his balls back.

    Unless there is full multilateral agreement that friends will not joke and bust on each other, you have to game them or else you’re the chump nobody takes seriously.

  5. David Foster Says:

    Interesting comments by Paul Graham, a successful entrepreneur and now a VC and advisor to startups, about the characteristics he looks for in company founders. Note especially item #4, “naughtiness.”

  6. Default User Says:

    @asdf, PA, David Foster
    The attitude asdf expresses was exactly mine. As someone who is not a natural charmer or “people person” it is a little disheartening (if not surprising). Having not read the book, I cannot be sure, but I suspect that you still require a certain level of competence. The book discusses gaining power and acknowledges that power may not be the motivating force for everyone.

    However, as PA pointed out “gaming,” or winning the favor of others, has always been a part of obtaining power and influence. Competence will get you so far, “gaming” may push you over the finish line.

    It is certainly interesting that a certain playfulness is noted by the comments PA and David Foster mentioned. I suppose some might call that “amused mastery,” “cocky funny,” or other such phrasing.

  7. asdf Says:

    I read a comment on one of the blogs that described civilization as the ultimate revenge of the nerds – the technically adept learning to overcome the sexually potent but socially stagnant charisma and social dominance of naturally aggressive males to secure a female and pass their own genes on. I think that with ‘game’ this revenge of the nerds is becoming complete. Learning social skills will be like learning any other technical subject, and the brainiest ones will be the winners.

  8. PA Says:

    It’s not even about obtaining power and influence. It’s really just normal social interactions. Two-year-olds do this, as do all of us. The word “Game” sounds very machiavellian but it’s really something every human does as part and parcel of being a social animal.

  9. brightstormyday Says:

    There was one blog I read in which the guy said that game can be applied to essentially anything.

    Although sometimes you absolutely do need to manflirt/girlflirt.

  10. Default User Says:

    @PA, brightstormyday

    I think the provider/beta/nerds created the type of stable and comfortable societies that allowed women select non-provider/beta/nerd types of men. I suppose game is an attempt to right the wrong they created; a bug fix to an upgrade as it were.

    I have a half formed post on the idea that male created technology could lead to men been truly superfluous (wouldn’t Mo Dowd be pleased). The idea is that GRIN technologies could replace all the things men do: Genetics (create children without male – ahem- input), Robotics (build and move heavy things), Information Tech – in the form of AI (design and create new things), Nanotech (create and maintain things).

  11. chic noir Says:

    default rubs chin & thinks to self …match my belief that some sociopathy is good, whether for business or pleasure as he looks around at his stable while trying to decide which one of his women will warm his bed tonight.

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