What Would Machiavelli Do?

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  • Edition: Reprint
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2002-01-01
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

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What Would Machiavelli Do? He would feast on other people's discord He wouldn't exactly seek the company of ass-kissers and bimbos, but he wouldn't reject them out of hand either He would realize that loving yourself means never having to say you're sorry He would kill people, but only if he could feel good about himself afterward He would establish and maintain a psychotic level of control He would use other people's opinions to sell his book!

Author Biography

Stanley Bing is a columnist for Fortune magazine, which he joined in 1995 after a decade writing a monthly column for Esquire magazine. When he is not commenting on corporate life, Bing works for an enormous multinational conglomerate whose identity is one of the worst-kept secrets in business.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Preface xiii
Introduction xvii
What Would Machiavelli Do?
He would exploit himself only slightly less than he exploits others
He would be unpredictable, and thus gain the advantage
He would be in love with his destiny
He would be, for the most part, a paranoid freak
He would always be at war
He would cultivate a few well-loved enemies
He would have a couple of good friends, too
He would acquire his neighbor
He would think BIG
He would move forward like a great shark, eating as he goes
He would kill people, but only if he could feel good about himself afterward
He would fire his own mother, if necessary
He would make a virtue out of his obnoxiousness
He would be way upbeat!
He would be satisfied with nobody but himself
He would treat himself right
She would view her gender as both a liability and an asset
He would use what he's got
He would embrace his own madness
He would do what he feels like doing, you idiot
He would say what he felt like saying
He would delegate all the crummy tasks, except the ones he enjoys
He wouldn't exactly seek the company of ass-kissers and bimbos, but he wouldn't reject them out of hand, either
He would respond poorly to criticism
He would ca a grudge until the extinction of the cockroach
He would lie when it was necessary
He would be proud of his cruelty and see it as strength
He would kick ass and take names
He would permanently cripple those who disappoint him
He would torture people until they were only too happy to destroy themselves
He would feast on other people's discord
He would make you fear for your life
He would be loyal to the people who could put up with all this
He would have no patience for anyfuckingbody
He would screw with people's weekends wedding plans, open-heart surgery
He would put it in your face
He would realize that loving yourself means never having to say you're sorry
He would have no conscience to speak of
He would scream at people a lot
He would establish and maintain a psychotic level of control
He would follow the money, honey
He wouldn't be afraid to sling that bullshit
He would eat to kill
He would never retire
He would have fun
Afterword: What Would Machiavelli Not Do? 145


What Would Machiavelli Do?
The Ends Justify the Meanness


Not long ago I was approached by a young manager by the name of Bob who was having a problem managing a subordinate.

The workload was quite heavy in their department, and as Friday was approaching it was clear that the required duties might very well stretch into the weekend. Sadly, Bob's deputy Mary was scheduled to go on a long-planned vacation that very Saturday. If Mary were to go, life would become very difficult for Bob, who had an important golf game he'd been looking forward to since his last golf game the prior weekend.

"I don't know," said Bob. "I'm under an incredible amount of stress. If I don't get in eighteen, I may not be able to handle the pressure next week. But I feel bad for Mary."

Bob's boss, Ned, who had long ago earned his first Mercedes—and not a baby 350 either, but one of those big 500s that eat up more than one entire lane as they burn asphalt at 75 mph—swiftly and rather bluntly inquired: "Bob, let me help you out. Answer this question. If Machiavelli were here, what would he do?"

Bob thought about it for a moment, then, his worry lines returning to their usual flabbiness, shot back: "He would pretend to have forgotten about Mary's vacation altogether, put an enormous amount of work on her shoulders at the last minute, and wait to see if she had the guts to take off under those conditions. Of course, she probably wouldn't."

Sure enough, things worked out perfectly—Mary rescheduled her vacation, Bob got in his round of golf (although he was annoyed several times by cellular phone calls while on the course) and Bob's boss was happy because all the work got done while he was in Gstaad, skiing!

Amazing how if you want the right answer, all you have to do is ask the right question.

This funny story illuminates the basic precepts we're going to be employing: People in the workplace who wish to succeed, have fun, and always get things their way should be intimately aware of what Machiavelli, the first truly modern, amoral thinker, would have to say on any subject that might come to pass during the normal course of business.

Nobody can really understand Machiavelli's actual writing today, however, because it is too literate, too grounded in meaningless social, political, and military anecdote, to remain interesting to anyone with normal intelligence, attention span, and patience.

Lacking an ability to read Machiavelli, people likeyou are going to need books like this one to explain how his teaching can help you become very big, very powerful, and very rich. Some are written by intelligent people who are interested in Machiavelli. This is not one of them'. You're not interested in Machiavelli. You're interested in yourself. Why waste your time on anything else?

This book boils down the path of the master into an overall strategy with the absolute minimum of sentiment, and the greatest amount of selfishness and brutality. In so doing, we create a way of operating that anyone sufficiently nasty can embrace with great creativity. Best of all, once you get used to the Machiavellian way, you will find it liberating, honest, and fun!

The basis of Machiavellian leadership is to keep in mind that Machiavelli guides our every action. Put another way, Machiavelli's thinking is user-friendly in every situation, be it social, professional, or somewhere in-between.

A Few Words About the Master

Niccolo Machiavelli was born in Italy during the Renaissance, which took place, for the most part, four or five hundred years ago. The circumstances of his birth were relatively humble, but I don't know that much about them. That's not my job. I'm here to look at the big picture, to give you the executive summary. If you want to know more specific stuff, look it up. That's your job. I must warn you, there may be a test on this material in the middle of a meeting in which you could be publicly humiliated, so I'd suggest you get busy.

At any rate, our prophet and master was a midlevel bureaucrat who for the best part of his career worked for a variety of departments reporting in to the Prince of Florence. He did a lot of traveling and spent a considerable amount of time representing the corporation on the road. This was when Florence was still a freestanding entity, before it was acquired and merged into Italy. So Machiavelli and his entire culture pretty much considered their enterprise to be the be-all and end-all as a global power on a path toward double-digit growth.

The biggest corporate officer of all was Lorenzo de Medici. Smart, brutal, and not a nice guy except when he felt like it, Mr. Medici and his court were very political, and at some point Machiavelli got on the wrong side of his boss. It's not important why. Who cares? It's not any more germane than the reason why Sumner Redstone suddenly decided a few years ago that he had to be rid of Frank Biondi, who to all intents and purposes looked to be an excellent number two and successor at Viacom. He just did, that's all. And that's what counts.

Machiavelli backed the wrong joint venture, or something like that. Things being what they were at that stage of the game, young Niccolo wasn't just sent to a depressing field office in Skokie to work with the Quality Assurance team. He was remanded to prison, where he sat around thinking of ways to get himself back to the thirty-fifth floor. On the bright side, he wasn't killed, the way he might have been if he reported to a different Italian family several hundred years later.

What Would Machiavelli Do?
The Ends Justify the Meanness
. Copyright © by Stanley Bing. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from What Would Machiavelli Do: The Ends Justify the Meanness by Stanley Bing
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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