Book Review : The 33 strategies of war

the 33 Strategies of War

the 33 Strategies of War

For those of you who are familiar with the 48 Laws of Power, Robert Greene requires no introduction. His earlier works (The Art of Seduction and 48) are referred to as the “amoral series”, while his most recent work, Mastery is a departure in some respects from his earlier work in that it reads almost like an inspiring self-help book. Greene has been a writer, editor and has also contributed in Hollywood.

The 33 Strategies of War uses the term war in a broader context by including the characteristic use of the term meaning battles but it also covers activities by politicians and those in Hollywood amongst others. The work is structured by providing a strategy followed by historical references as examples. These examples can be diverse in the sense that providing evidence can include: a Hollywood actress, Alfred Hitchcock, samurai warrior, political activist, and or a Napoleon….in any combination as a reference to the strategy at hand. The examples are then distilled into a modern day lesson which offers context and thought provoking ideas.

Each section also has numerous quotes in the margins taken from various sources that pertain to the strategy in question. If you like notes in the margin these are often interesting. On occasion the stories are lengthier and detract somewhat from the flow of the stories at hand.

The book is broken into 5 sections:

Self-Directed Warfare, Organizational (Team) Warfare, Defensive Warfare, Offensive Warfare and Unconventional Warfare. Each section contains several strategies elaborately presented and followed by interesting historical stories and interpretations of those stories in a section called keys to warfare. At the end of each strategy is the reversal, or opposite which may or may not be applicable to a given strategy.
There is no moralizing about a given event, but rather an assessment based on a detached evaluation.

This work is meaty in that it is not a sit down and consume in a short easy read. It is more of a pick up and read a strategy, mull it over and come back to the book later for the next one. I can think of more than one stand out section of the book, and you may find others that appeal depending on what you are looking for. By placing each strategy in a modern and personal context, Greene brilliantly ties the work together making the book all the more interesting and readable.

Almost anyone can benefit from Greene’s unique approach to writing. If you are interested in history, this book will provide an original take on a variety of historical moments and characters. As a person working in a highly competitive and or bureaucratic environment, there may be some things in here that can help you make sense of what is going on around you or even assist in the development of a strategy to get ahead.

Anyone with an interest in politics will gain perhaps a better insight into how to interpret the various moves and statements made by the political class. In this way the book might prove helpful in interpreting complex situations for investment purposes.

If one has an interest in the press and how news flow is developed and why it plays out the way it does, you will recognize some of the strategies based on thoughts in this book. They are not always cut and dry, but clear enough to draw a passing conclusion.

In the financial field one is faced with various strategies outlined in this book. Some are in the stories and narratives you hear every day, others are central to the business you are involved in. For the investment professional, this work offers a rich template of ideas.

George Santayana said: Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it, while Robert Greene is reaching into the rich treasure trove of history to derive lessons for the present and the future.

This was an outstanding book and I recommend it.

How to Learn the Art of Seduction

How to Learn the Art of Seduction

Are you tired of chasing the opposite sex? Do you want to turn the tables and have them chasing you instead? With a little practice, it’s easy to master the art of seduction. A little confidence and playfulness may be all it takes.

stop being needy

stop being needy

 

1. Stop being needy. Neediness and seduction are mutually exclusive. The more desperate you are, the less attracted they will be. The very last thing you want to do is make the person feel pressured. If you want to seduce someone who’s quite independent, you may also benefit from learning how to tame a free spirit.
  • Even if you feel neediness coming on, don’t give in. Think of it this way: Your needs will be met at some point down the line, but maybe not now. Delayed gratification.
  • Get a devil-may-care attitude when you’re seducing that special someone. Be, within reason, a little bit reckless: Do something a little risque or unexpected to keep them guessing. Maybe go out to the beach in the middle of the night. Maybe go on an unannounced trip for a couple of days. Try to cultivate a little bit of mystery.

relax

relax

2. Relax. The more comfortable you feel, the more comfortable the other person will feel around you, and the more receptive they’ll be to your affection.

  • Walk somewhere close instead of driving. Even just 10 minutes of physical activity can reduce stress and help you relax.
  • Listen to music that’s proven to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and fight an elevated heart rate.
  • Store a golf ball underneath your desk or work area. Rub your bare feet over it for a simple but effective massage.
  • Get a good night’s rest! Sleep deprivation can mean more stress. People who sleep more usually have an easier time relaxing.

3.Be playful. Smile. Flirt. Touch. Tease. Don’t be too serious, people enjoy having a good time. Have fun with this person. Enjoy the game.

  • Studies have found that a playful attitude makes people more attractive. Playfulness in males signals non-aggression, while in females it signals youth and fertility.
  • Humor, too, is another crucial aspect of your personality that plays a role in attractiveness. A study has found that women are more likely to give their phone number to men who use humor, while men too perceive humor as being an attractive trait in women.
  • Be able to make fun of yourself. People generally don’t like other people who can’t take a joke or get offended when anything bad about them gets said. Don’t be that person. Be able to take criticism in stride. Hey, if you dish it out to other people (and you should; playfulness is attractive) you should also be able to take it.

4. Don’t be always available. People enjoy being with other people who have exciting and interesting things going on in their lives, because they feel happy at the prospect of someone like that sharing their precious time with them. So what will you achieve if you are trying to meet with them or talk to them every moment? Nothing. It’s best not to overwhelm the other person with your time, and let the relationship unfold at a more measured pace.

  • On some occasions, if a person asks you for a date, don’t immediately agree. Say you’ll check your calendar first, and then agree. Even if you have nothing going on, play it cool. That way, your social appearance will be enhanced by a simple trick.
  • That being said, fill your calendar with real events and real people. There’s no substitute for the real thing. You’ll actually be happier and feel more fulfilled if you’re out and about than if you’re sitting at home twiddling your thumbs.

5. Make an effective use of body language. Move confidently. Most people are not attracted to wallflowers, but to people who are sure of themselves. Don’t forget to smile and, if possible, make body contact when appropriate and not intrusive.

  • Use your body language to flirt. If you’re not Shakespeare-skilled with words, don’t fret. You can send subtle signals to people you want to attract, depending on the social situation. Don’t be afraid to touch someone’s arm or shoulder lightly when you’re talking to them. Physical contact by men actually increases the temperature of women, sometimes by a whole degree Celsius.
  • Use eye contact to flirt. Eyes are incredibly powerful tools, so use them wisely. Lock eyes with your date when you’re talking; there’s nothing that screams confidence like a good look into someone’s eyes. If you’re using eye contact to flirt, however, don’t scan the room staring at every person. People want to feel special, so learn to locate a few candidates and shower them with your eye-attention.

6.Don’t be a completely open book. Leave something to the imagination. You should not share everything about you with the other person: mystery is always attractive. It makes people realize they don’t know the whole you, and this secrecy will give off a seductive aura.

  • Resist the urge to tell this person about your entire life story, and especially your parents. Not that parents aren’t great; they’re just not very seductive!
  • If you’re being forced into telling a little bit about yourself, stick to vague bits, not specific details. You can explain where you came from, how you grew up, and what your plans were to save the world, but put it in conversation form instead of a big, long essay.
7.Be patient. Wait for their desire for you to catch up with your desire for them. Believe that it’s only a matter of time, that they just need to discover how awesome you really are. If you don’t believe that, then you can’t seduce anyone. But the fact is that we naturally become attracted to anyone who we feel comfortable with, makes us laugh, and is slightly out of reach (because of the thrill of the unknown). It’s human nature.

Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

To Reward or to Punish?

Developed by B.F Skinner, operant conditioning is a way of learning by means of rewards and punishments. This type of conditioning holds that a certain behavior and a consequence, either a reward or punishment, have a connection which brings about learning.

Studies on classical conditioning resulted to the emergence of other theories that may explain behavior and learning, and one of these is Operant Conditioning. Operant conditioning tries to negate the belief that internal thoughts and mere motivations would bring about learning a behavior. As a behaviorist, Skinner thought that only external causes of behavior should be considered.

The term “operant” was used by Skinner in order to give us a good overview of his theory. By this term, he meant that this type of conditioning involves only external factors that affect behavior and its consequences.

A. Reinforcement

Reinforcement is a process of increasing the frequency or rate of a behavior by means of presenting a stimulus shortly after the display of behavior. The event that intensifies the likelihood of the behavior to be repeated is called a reinforcer. There are two types of reinforcer:

  1. Positive reinforcers are favorable stimuli that are given after the display of behavior. Positive reinforcement strengthens the probability of a behavior by means of the addition of something.Example: You studied hard and got an A in your Math exam. Your mom rewards you by treating you to your favorite restaurant. After this, you study hard again and also got an A in your History exam. Your mom rewards you by going with you to see a movie you like. For your next examinations, you study hard once more.
  2. Negative reinforcers, on the other hand, is the removal of the unfavorable stimuli after the display of behavior. In negative reinforcement, the behavior or response is intensified by the removal of something.Example: You leave home at 8 am to drive your way to work, and you always encounter heavy traffic. You leave your home earlier the next day, causing you to avoid the heavy traffic. You leave home earlier than 8am during the next days and you keep on avoiding the heavy traffic. This means that your behavior of leaving home earlier than 8 am is intensified by the consequence of getting to avoid heavy traffic.

In both positive and negative reinforcements, behavior is increased.

B. Punishment

In contrast to reinforcement, punishment is a process wherein a stimulus is presented after the display of behavior and causes the decline in the likelihood of behavior to reoccur. There are two types of punishments:

  1. Positive punishment is the addition of something which causes the decrease in repeating the behavior that was displayed. Negative punishment, also known as punishment by removal, occurs when a favorable event or outcome is removed after a behavior occurs.Example: A child teased his sister, making her cry so loud. The mother spanked him on his buttocks because of this. The child never teased his sister again.
  2. Negative Punishment, on the other hand, is the removal of something which is favorable, in order to decrease the likelihood of the behavior to reoccur.Example: A teenager is caught cheating in an examination. His parents then forbid him to use his car and also reduce his allowance. The teenager does not cheat in his present exams anymore.

To have a better understanding of these concepts, here is a table which summarizes the characteristics of positive /negative reinforcement and positive /negative punishment:

Decreases likelihood
of behavior
Increases likelihood
of behavior
Addition Positive punishment Positive reinforcement
Removal Negative punishment Negative reinforcement

What is Machiavellianism in Psychology?

What is Machiavellianism?

MachiavellianismMachiavellianism in psychology refers to a personality trait which sees a person so focused on their own interests they will manipulate, deceive, and exploit others to achieve their goals.

Machiavellianism is one of the traits in what is called the ‘Dark Triad’, the other two being narcissism and psychopathy.

The term itself derives from a reference to the infamous Niccolò Machiavelli, a diplomat and philosopher in the Renaissance whose most well-known work became ‘The Prince” (Il Principe). This notorious book espoused his views that strong rulers should be harsh with their subjects and enemies, and that glory and survival justified any means, even ones that were considered immoral and brutal.

By the late 16th century “Machiavellianism” became a popular word to describe the art of being deceptive to get ahead.

But it wasn’t a psychological term until the 1970s, when two social psychologists, Richard Christie and Florence L. Geis, developed what they called “the Machiavellianism Scale”. A personality inventory that is still used as the main assessement tool for Machaivellianism, this scale is now called ‘the Mach-IV test”.

Machiavellianism has been found to be more common in men then women.  It can, however, occur in anyone – even children.

Signs of Machiavellianism

Machiavellianism in psychologySomeone with the trait of Machiavellianism will tend to have many of the following tendencies:

  • only focused on their own ambition and interests
  • prioritise money and power over relationships
  • come across as charming and confident
  • exploit and manipulate others to get ahead
  • lie and deceive when required
  • use flattery often
  • lacking in principles and values
  • can come across as aloof or hard to really get to know
  • cynical of goodness and morality
  • capable of causing others harm to achieve their means
  • low levels of empathy
  • often avoid commitment and emotional attachments
  • can be very patient due to calculating nature
  • rarely reveal their true intentions
  • prone to casual sex encounters
  • can be good at reading social situations and others
  • lack of warmth in social interactions
  • not always aware of the consequences of their actions
  • might struggle to identify their own emotions

The Machiavellianism Scale

The Machiavellianism scale is a score of up to 100 resulting from a test that consists of a series of questions. People who score above 60 are considered ‘high Machs’ and those scoring below 60, ‘low Machs’.

High Machs are focused on their own wellbeing. They believe that to get ahead, one must be deceptive. They don’t trust human goodness and think depending on others is naive. Prioritising power over love and connection, they don’t believe that humankind is by nature good.

A low Mach, on the other hand, tends to show empathy to others, and is honest and trusting. They believe in human goodness and that if you abide by good morals you will do well in life. Too low on the scale, however, can see people being submissive and too agreeable.

9 Unmistakable Signs You’re Dating An INTJ

intj

intj

INTJs are the rational, strategic planners of the Myers-Briggs world. They hold high personal standards for both themselves and others. This analytical type finds themselves drawn to relationships with other intuitive-dominant types who place a high value on intellectual exploration. If the person you’re dating exhibits most of the following behaviors, chances are you’ve got an INTJ on your hands.

1. They’re taking forever to make a move.

INTJs are not impulsive people. In fact, it could take them years to properly decide whether or not the two of you make sense together. First they have to discern whether or not they are attracted to you. Then they have to assess your suitability as a partner. Last but certainly not least (in terms of time allocation), they have to form an action plan regarding which steps they should take to win you over. This process doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a long-ass time for an INTJ to make a move but when they do, you can bet your ass they’re serious about it.

2. You feel a little bit like they’re studying you.

INTJs are interested in people – what makes them tick, what pushes their buttons and how they operate on a rational and emotional level. In the initial stages of getting to know an INTJ it can feel like they’re constantly analyzing you – most conversations are focused on you and you are constantly hearing the words “Interesting,” or “I see.” It takes a bit for the INTJ to shift the focus onto him or herself – they like to listen first and reveal their opinions second.

3. They don’t take well to changing plans.

If you’ve planned a dinner date with an INTJ on Friday, please – for the love of God – do not call them up Thursday night and say you’d rather go to a party. INTJs plan out their every move – they have probably been contemplating your date on Friday since Monday. Changing the plan at the last minute is offsetting to them – and will almost never go over well.

4. Sex is as mental as it is physical.

To the INTJ, arousal is not purely instinctual. Attraction begins in the mind and the best way to get them in the mood is to mention a sexual fantasy that gets them thinking – hard. INTJs are creative, kinky lovers who view some parts of sex as a challenge. They want to constantly improve their game and continually get their partner off in better, more creative ways. This type enjoys the mental connection that comes with sexual intimacy just as much as they enjoy the raw physical component.

5. They understand your motivations better than you do.

We all sugar coat our own core feelings – it’s how we stay emotionally stable. The INTJ, however, isn’t interested in sugar coating anything. They analyze people exactly as they are – the good, the bad and the downright terrifying. They’re often able to identify what it is that inspires and drives you on a level that even you aren’t aware of. It’s a little bit creepy at first but it becomes incredibly useful over time. Just go with it. They get you and that is (usually) a good thing.

6. They react best to direct communication.

INTJs have no patience for passive-aggressive comments or subtle remarks. If something is amiss in the relationship, they appreciate being told point-blank what is wrong and what the best course of action would be to fix it. INTJs want to maintain harmony in a relationship – they simply don’t care to achieve it through guesswork.

7. They don’t argue from their emotions.

To an INTJ, every conflict is a puzzle to be solved. Though they can get their feathers ruffled just like any other type, their first reaction is always to break down a given situation, analyze what is or isn’t working and strive to improve upon the existing method of operation. Sound a little technical? Because it is. INTJs use logic to deal with just about every component of their lives – which means they’re going to need a bit of reflection time before they can tell you how they feel about a conflict.

8. They do, however, experience surprisingly strong emotions.

Once an INTJ has decided that you are the partner for them, they become highly emotionally invested in the relationship. Though they aren’t always the masters of showing it, INTJs are emotional – even romantic – at heart. They show their love by devoting themselves to the relationship and by tirelessly working to improve it.

9. When it ends, they need closure.

INTJs are balanced out by Ne dominant types – that is, ENFPs and ENTPs. The tricky part of this equation is that both types are a little less relationship-oriented than the serious INTJ. When a partner leaves the relationship with little warning, the INTJ has a difficult time moving on until they can fully understand the cause for the upheaval. Relationships are a puzzle just like everything else and the INTJ wants to solve it before they can finally put it to rest.

10 Great Things About Being INTJ

intj

intj

Of the 16 personalities on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, INTJ (Introversion, iNtuition, Thinking, Judging) is one of the rarest. With 1 to 2 percent of the population falling into this pathology, it’s no surprise that INTJs may sometimes feel like an alien on Earth. With a reserved demeanor that favors pragmatism over emotion, the type is often used as the framework for villains in stories.

From the outside, INTJs can seem cold and distant. Internally, they can often find themselves struggling with their identity more than other types. In case you are in that situation, or just need a reminder, here’s some of the best parts about being a rarity on this planet.

1. Always Looking to Improve

Sure ‘The Mastermind’ may be the given title to INTJs, but ‘Tinkerer’ could work just as well—if ‘tinker’ didn’t have such a wonky sound to it. INTJs are constantly on the look out for ways to improve the world around them. This may annoy those that don’t understand the inner workings of an INTJ. Often they are almost always going to be their own worst critic. They often look for fix-up projects for themselves, or the people in their lives. It sometimes may seem meddling, but most are reserved enough to only help when asked. Once they do commit to a project, they are in it until the end. Anyone with an annoying but lovable parent might be able to understand.

2. Comfortable With a Quiet Night

Like other introverts, INTJs are perfectly content with a night on the couch. By themselves or with their comfortable circle, INTJs love a low-key night. It’s not saying that they don’t like to go out at all (some don’t). It’s that they spend energy when they’re out in highly stimulating situations, where most of the world (extroverts) feed off that stimulating energy.

For many INTJs it runs a bit deeper. Their sanity can sometimes be linked to their need for privacy and quiet. Many pursue solitary activities like reading and writing to regain their energy. This can explain why many of them appear extremely irked when someone disrupts their private time. If they fail to communicate this to the people around them, the INTJ can come off exceptionally cold and distant. It’s something they should look out for at times.

3. Mental Quickness

The whole ‘Mastermind’ stuff might have tipped you off to this, but mental quickness goes deeper than that. INTJs are a witty, innovative bunch that has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Consider them pack rats of wisdom, if you will. Once they have the knowledge, they use it to analyze and reach new insights of their own. Sometimes, they use it to better understand themselves, which falls back onto their desire for self-improvement.

In professional settings, they are often in math, science and computer fields that require an extensive amount of knowledge. One thing any INTJ must be aware of is that this high level of knowledge can be a dangerous combination when mixed with their unusually high levels of self-confidence. Too much of that can turn most people off, which may be why they are often reserved and to themselves. Notable INTJs include Karl Marx, Ayn Rand and Stephen Hawking.

4. Rebellious Free Thinkers

Did you ever have that silent, brooding kid in your high school? A loner, a rebel, but not the Pee Wee’s Big Adventure kind? If so, that misunderstood rebel very well could have been an INTJ. You see, it’s not that they want to rebel. Instead, they just don’t conform to many social norms the rest of the world accepts. The younger generations are shifting this way now, but INTJs have questioned authority as long as their nature has dictated. Just because someone holds a title of authority or seniority does not mean a thing to an INTJ. Respect is earned by everyone.

Their propensity for big picture thinking can further isolate them, as they tend to think less about the world around them. Mixed with their high levels of research, it’s no surprise that many INTJs believe that they can make positive changes in the world. See, they’re not evil masterminds like the movies make them out to be!

5. Extremely Loyal

One of the more frustrating aspects of an INTJ can be their extreme loyalty mixed with their high standards for honesty and morality. Loyalty and steadiness are highly desirable to them, but it can take some time to develop. Their reserved nature isn’t just some form of social aversion. Instead, they are gauging what could come of their potential relationships. To some, this approach can be maddening. For INTJs, it’s a highly effective way of going about life.

Once you have earned the loyalty of an INTJ, you have made a lifelong friend that often doesn’t let new people in. But, if you breach that trust it can be near impossible to gain back. Their trust can be lost by the slightest social norm that is otherwise accepted in society. For INTJs, the acceptance of white lies and other commonly accepted actions is not so easy for them—if at all. That can make their hardline loyalty the kind of bond you’ll never have to worry about losing. If you think you can sneak something past an INTJ, you may want to reconsider before losing a potential friend over something small. Then again, try to ease up every once in a while, INTJs. The world doesn’t see it your way all the time, or ever.

6. Open-Minded

Most INTJs are hard to sway once they have made up their minds, but that isn’t the case when they are forming their opinions. INTJsare actually one of the more open minded kinds of people. While there are certain ones that may not embody that mentality (Looking at you, Putin…) INTJs are often part of the most progressive group in the conversation.

This can be puzzling when factoring in their judgement (J) tendency. How does the tolerance work with all that judgement? One key point to remember is that like all the pathologies, each person is on a scale. Each person will be different. Or, if you asked anINTJ they’ll probably have an elaborate way to describe how it works for them.

7. The Rational Approach

What may drive others crazy is one of an INTJs strongest characteristics. They take pride in possessing a strong, pragmatic approach to life, but it comes with a down side. While most of the world jumps for what they want, an INTJ takes their time—deciding if it fits their fickle standards. This can make relationships a massive issue for them. Then again, that rationale allows for them to also separate emotion from situations. It can rub people the wrong way because an INTJ may not be matching the emotion of those around them, but that’s just how they are.

A rational approach can be a problem for the INTJ as well because they seek precise answers, which is not the way a large amount of people operate. However, once they get those precise answers it allows them to go into their heads and optimize the heck out of the situation.

8. Keen Observers

As previously stated, trying to get something past an INTJ is a dangerous game, my friend. Whether it’s big or small, an INTJ could react rather harshly if you get caught. The reason for that is their observation that rivals an owl. The ability comes from their introverted intuition being a dominant factor in their personalities. This fosters their mental quickness because of the constant flow of knowledge they take in.

When not using this to be amateur sleuths, an INTJ can use their observations to optimize a situation. They can remove themselves from the action to see what is going on, or hone in on a person during a conversation—especially if the INTJ is lacking anything to say on their end. Just be sure to break your gaze every once in a while, INTJs. You don’t want to have anyone think you’re a creep or anything.

9. Hardworking, Determined to Achieve Their Goals

A lazy INTJ is something you will rarely come across. They are workhorses, but only when they want to. Good luck getting them to quit once they have found a subject they are in to. They will stick at it until they know it inside and out. Long hours of practice and studying excite an INTJ because they know they are that much closer to perfecting their task. Between their work ethic and mental prowess, it is no surprise that they often excel in tasking situations. Where others often become exhausted, INTJs remain charged behind their new found knowledge. If you can’t find your INTJ loved ones, check where the books and computers are first.

10. Natural Leadership Abilities

When so much of their personality steers towards wise, fair leadership their reluctance to be the focal point puts their true ability to change the world into doubt. Their pragmatism and foresight allows them to make rational strategies that often come to fruition. Yet, frequently they will remain quiet unless they deem no one else fit for the leadership role.

Once in the role of leaders they can be highly effective. However, their nature to disregard emotions over the greater good of the cause can rub people the wrong way. A great INTJ leader should consider branching out of their comfort zone to factor emotions in while remaining their typical pragmatic self.