Notes on power and influence

I am not power hungry. But I do want to achieve things. One, I run a foundation, so I want to affect change, solve problems, raise and leverage resources, and influence people to take meaningful action. That takes power and influence. Second, I an offering myself up to be a leader in my community, and want to be in a position to affect positive change in light of all the challenges our community faces. That also requires power and influence. Below is a simple list of the things I believe are the tenants to power and influence, and the things I will work to improve. These notes will evolve over time.


  • The weak benefit by the quarrels of the mighty. (Indian fable)
  • Be well read. One simply cannot be powerful and influential when they are not well read. You need to read: books, research, long-form essays, serious periodicals. Reading helps you be conversational. Reading helps you be creative. Reading helps you prepare for real life situations (it’s all happened before, and it’s all been said before). Reading makes you more aware of the world around you.
  • Have a deep (and growing) network. You have to know people. And it’s not the amount of people, it’s the right people. This process never stops. It’s easy to collect people. But if you are honest with yourself, most of your people aren’t worth the time. Not that they are bad people, it’s just they aren’t helping you move forward, be powerful, or be influential.
  • “Life will present you with unexpected opportunities, and you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments. Above all, it’s the quality of your relationships that will determine the quality of your life. Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.”
  • Money. Have it, spend it well, and be a magnet for it. Cash flow is everything. Especially in this time and place. Believe me, I wish this wasn’t the case. But it is. And the sooner we accept that, the sooner we can leverage money for power and influence.
  • Maximize and leverage time. You must do this better than the average person. You can’t make more time, thus, you must leverage it well, and do it better than average. With power and influence, you can make time. With power and influence, people give you time. But first, you have to make time. And most people significantly waste time. They give it away by whining about everything on social media, watching Netflix for hours, and giving time away to people not worth it. Learn to say no. Learn to focus. Learn to time block.
  • Do the work to be (and appear) healthy. You must have energy. You must feel good. You cannot influence people when you are tired, look haggard, or have a nervous stomach. You need to get good sleep, you need to eat the right foods, and you need to see your doctors and stay on top of things.
  • Look the part. Be well dressed in high quality clothes. You don’t need a lot of clothes, but you need quality clothes. No one is going to take you seriously if you look like a slob. Adjust your wardrobe to fit your size, as in, get new stuff if you lose or gain weight. Don’t be cheap. Powerful people, influential people, look the part, they don’t go cheap.
  • Be well-traveled. A powerful person has been places, seen things. An influential person tells stories of other places. In other words, a well-traveled person has experiences. And from these experiences, one draws stories and impactful conversation. Henceforth comes power and influence.
  • Maintain awareness of the world around you. I’ve written some notes on this topic before, but you cannot be powerful if you are unaware of what’s happening around you.
  • Be a strong communicator. You won’t influence a thing without an ability to communicate. Yet, most people suck at it. As the line goes, the biggest mistake made with communicate is the mistaken belief that’s it has actually occurred.
  • Be patient. One of my significant weaknesses. No one is moved by an impatient fool. A powerful person also waits for the right opportunity to move.
  • Fulfill promises. Do what you say you are going to do. One can trust the word of a person of influence.
  • Become an independent-minded thinker.
  • Do NOT conform. The powerful do not run with the pack. They stand out. They do things differently. In their own time. And on their own terms.
  • Know your shit. You have to know more than the next guy. If you truly know how something operates, you have power over those who do not. And with this knowledge, you can make things happen because you secretly know how, where most people don’t. Then, people come to you to get things done, and this makes you powerful and influential.
  • Curator. People of influence know how to curate, and meticulously keep the important and meaningful stuff front and center. And remove all the chaff. They don’t get bogged down in the minutae that keep them from achieving big things and focusing on the right stuff.

REFERENCE MATERIALS:

  1. The 48 Laws of Power, by Robert Greene
  2. My podcast interview with Robert Greene
  3. The Prince, by Niccolò Machiavelli
  4. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro
  5. The Art of War by Sun Tzu
  6. The 33 Strategies of War, by Robert Greene

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