Robert Greene has created a powerful book that will likely be misunderstood by most or discounted by many because of the co-author and his past, this will be a big mistake. In my opinion Robert Greene has taken a fearless step by choosing to cast 50 Cent as a modern day hip hop Napoleon, while I see the correlation, I'm not sure I'd go quite that far.
The 50th law is about two topics near and dear to my heart, fearlessness and hustle. In this case the term hustle is used to describe the street hustling tactics and the criminal endeavors of 50 Cent, what you can't overlook is that much of what 50 Cent did was in fact criminal and had no socially redeeming qualities. That said, he showed amazing insight for a child with little education other than that received from trial and error and other hustlers. He showed an intuitive grasp of core concepts of power, of strategy, and of outright manipulation. Robert discusses those tactics in great detail and in a very interesting way, the text is incredibly motivating. I constantly found myself wondering what I might do if I applied the same kind of hustle in an ethical, legal way to my existing business and kept coming back to the same conclusion, the business would grow and my competitors would be impacted.
The key ideas in the book are:
1. Intense Realism - A very candid look at the value of seeing things as they are
2. Self Reliance - A look at making everything your own and controlling yourself and your surroundings
3. Opportunism - Finding the value in negative situations and making the best of ever situation while turning it to your advantage
4. Keep moving - Move with the chaos, don't give others a chance to pin you down, change your appearance to fit the environment
5. Aggression - Get over your fears of confronting people
6. Authority - The person at the top sets the tone
7. Connection - Think of the public first and their changing needs. Begin with their demand and create the appropriate supply.
8. Mastery - Learn to master boredom, outlast your rivals, learn early to endure the hours of practice and drudgery to build a proper foundation to grow from
9. Self Belief - Push beyond your limits. Your sense of who you are will determine your actions and what you get in life.
10. The Sublime - Confront your mortality
While this book does not contain the depth of history you've probably come to expect from Mr. Greene's writing, there is plenty of it here and it is well chosen to support the topic of each chapter.
If you were ever looking for the step by step how to apply all of Robert's other writing, this is it, all wrapped up in a very practical guide. Misunderstand or overlook this book at your own risk . . . better yet, get it now and learn it, you'll be glad you did.
Persuasion: The Art of Getting What You Want
Subliminal Persuasion: Influence & Marketing Secrets They Don't Want You To Know
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on December 2, 2009
Being a fan of Robert Greene (I often consult his works for advice), I was delighted to get my hands on his fourth book. It looks quite unusual, with is leather-look cover and gold pages one could mistake it for the Bible. This is Roberts first collaboration and a surprising one at that, with rap-mogul 50 Cent. 50 embodies the rags-to-riches myth, and with such an unusual life, he has - a lot - of stories to share. In addition to historical examples, Robert uses a living person as his main inspiration, and this makes the book feel more modern and alive. 50's experience, coupled with Roberts razor-sharp analytical insight result in this `Hustlers Bible'.
The good stuff starts with the introduction, where the 50th Law is revealed on p.18: "The greatest fear people have is that of being themselves". This is no an empty proverb, the book very clearly explains its meaning. The main theme of the book is fearlessness. Robert and 50 mapped out ten common types of fears and the power one can obtain by overcoming them.
Chapter 1 - Intense Realism x Fear of the ugly truth
Chapter 2 - Self-Reliance x Fear of being alone
Chapter 3 - Opportunism x Fear of threatening events
Chapter 4 - Calculated Momentum x Fear of change
Chapter 5 - Aggression x Fear of confrontation
Chapter 6 - Authority x Fear of responsibility
Chapter 7 - Connection x Fear of people who are different
Chapter 8 - Mastery x Fear of boredom, fear of practice
Chapter 9 - Self-Belief x Fear of failure
Chapter 10 - the Sublime x Fear of death
The chapters are structured in the following way:
1) presentation of a problem/fear, illustrated with examples from 50's life (and historical examples),
2) the fearless approach - describes how to overcome this fear, the principles, in general terms,
3) keys to fearlessness - offers practical strategies for mastering these principles (here's where the work is at)
The idea is to apply the strategies (described under `keys to fearlessness') to your own life.
The book itself is a very entertaining read, but to reap its benefits you'll have to re-read it, seek out connections in your own life, and act accordingly. Forget the 'easy fix', as written in Ch. 8: "The real secret for power in this world lies in accepting the ugly reality that learning demands patience,..."
One topic that has resonated with me personally, is the "trap of the middle class": having a stable job, without real satisfaction with your life and career, but without an urgent reason to change your job into something more exciting, or to live life into a more fulfilling way. It's a wake-up call.
The book feels like there has been great care put into it (in contrast to many self-help titles that offer empty wisdom). If you're willing to put in the effort, "The 50th Law" will help you to move on to a freer and more satisfying life.
on September 10, 2009
The 50th Law, a book like nothing you've ever read before. I first expected a continuation of Mr. Greene's other books (48 LOP, TAOS); this is to say the least completely different. Fearlessness is the basic focus of The 50th Law. The book explains how fear can cripple most people from living their lives well and with power. It also gives examples of those who lived on the fringes of society, who applied themselves fearlessly to the mastery of their own particular goals in the midst of despairing circumstance. The book's co-author 50 Cent, is one of Robert Greene's most adept pupils who rose in fame, money and power in a few short years amidst many life-changing setbacks. What an inspiration for anyone who wants more than their current situation in life can give them right now. This book is for the hustler, he doesn't think like everyone else because so many people are afraid to have his responsibilities and therefore don't enjoy his rewards. That's the book's "audience", the hustlers who make ways were none seem to be available and prosper because of it. This is why the hustler will always find a way to have power in this world. Read this book with an open mind, you may realize that fear is the only thing holding you back from what you truly want. It may be hard, gritty and abrasive yet this is the only book that will tell you the truth about how exactly one rises to power in this world; it's not pretty and it's fearless.
on October 11, 2009
Full disclosure: I'm founder of Sonshi.com, the largest website on Sun Tzu's Art of War and where we interviewed Mr. Greene after he wrote "33 Strategies of War" and later "The 50th Law." But please understand this: We like his works so much we invited him, not because we invited him we like his work.
Now to my review. First of all I'm an avid reader of nonfiction, specifically business books. Most business books I read are mediocre and sometimes so far from being realistic that they hold little practical value. The 50th Law is far superior to anything I have read in a long long time that I've decided to write a review here. Every paragraph in the book is PACKED with insights so profound yet clear that only someone with Robert Greene's knowledge and literary skill can pull it off. The powerfully useful concepts never let up from beginning to end (very rare in books -- most would taper off by the end). I took notes to highlight the good stuff but soon gave up because it was causing me to pause too darn often.
Here is where I'm supposed to discuss the specific topics Mr. Greene discusses in his book such as: fear, having a learning mind, adapting to your environment, death, etc. But the 50th Law's depth, clarity, wisdom are impossible for someone of my caliber to render in my own words without falling short in a tragic way. Anything I say would only shortchange the book. So I won't try. Trust me on this one, once you read this book, you'll know exactly what I mean here.
OK just for balance, here are some caveats: If you happen to like lame self-improvement books by Kenneth Blanchard and his ilk, move along -- you will never grasp this book's genius. Also if you want a detailed account of 50 Cent's life, you won't find it here; what you WILL find are extraordinary analyses of 50 Cent's major decisions, how they made him a better person, and, in turn, how the lessons from them can help you in your life. A small annoyance is the book's repetition of "(now known as 50 Cent)", which sounds fine after the 2nd time but after the 5th time it got downright strange and I wonder if an unyielding editor had a heavy hand in Robert Greene's writing; no big deal, perhaps it's just me.
To conclude, if you have read Robert Greene's previous works -- I have read them all -- you will NOT be disappointed. The 50th Law is a must read for you. If you have never read his works and if you have an open but critical mind for strategy and personal development, you will be blown away. In summary, if you want honest, logical, and useful advice, The 50th Law has it in spades. This book will change the way you look at your life forever, and, I might add, change it for the better.
Thomas Huynh, founder
on November 30, 2009
Rapper 50 Cent's life as a hustler (aka drug dealer) in Queens and subsequent rise to fame as a rapper and entrepreneur served as the inspiration and the framework for the book "The 50th Law." So what is The 50th Law? The back cover of the book bears the imprint "Nihil timendum est.", Latin for "fear nothing" and that's the gist of The 50th Law's message. Fiddy, a fan of social science writer Robert Greene's 1998 book,"The 48 Laws of Power," approached Greene to work on a possible project. The result was the "The 50th Law," a street-smart primer on power and self improvement.
Greene's prose and research hinges on historical and psychological underpinnings interspersed with tales of Fiddy's life on the streets. Napoleon, explorer Andrew Selkirk, and the philosopher Seneca have a lot more in common with a rapper like 50 Cent (and other successful modern people who've overcome adversity) than you might think.
Touchy-feely self-help books and the "everyone's a winner" mumbo jumbo favored by women's TV talk shows and California psychic/chakra types may make people feel good temporarily, but they don't spur the complacent into action. Robert Greene's rational, proactive approach in this book, as in his previous works,"The 33 Strategies of War" and "The 48 Laws of Power" will do just that. I discovered Greene's work after reading a list of "The 48 Laws of Power" on some random website. I noticed that I had unwittingly followed some of those laws during several happy and productive times in my life. So there is something relatable about Greene's writing for people from all walks of life.
"The 50th Law" distills the doctrine from Greene's other books, including the brilliant "The Art of Seduction." While "The Art of Seduction" brimmed with examples (and quotes) from the lives of European courtesans and philosophers, "The 50th Law" quotes Malcolm X, James Baldwin, and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The fact that 50 Cent is a co-author might scare away middle of the road types looking for some life coaching, but that would be a mistake. There's a lot of good advice here. Whether you seek fame or fortune or just want to live life on your own terms, "The 50th Law" will shake you into repositioning yourself for success. The book isn't sugarcoated or simplistic, but it's not Machiavellian, either. I know many people use that term to describe Greene's work, but I don't agree. "The 50th Law" is a dose of reality, assertiveness and common sense.
on July 24, 2013
I have read and enjoyed "The Art of Seduction," "The 48 Laws of Power," and "The 33 Strategies of War." Though long winded at times, the books had plenty of lessons (with great historical references) that made them a pleasure to read. This is not the case with "The 50th Law."
This book tries to make itself as long as possible through font size and spacing manipulation. I compared these two factors in "The 50th Law" to "The 48 Laws of Power:"
The number of lines per page (in 16 cm of height): 28 lines in 50th Law vs. 37 lines in 48 LoP
Average number of characters per line (avg. of 3 lines & 10 cm of width): 60 in 50th Law vs. 69 in 48 LoP
That's a 24% reduction in height and a 13% reduction in width. Instead of being 288 pages, the book would have been 190 pages if it followed the same font size and spacing as 48 LoP. Not to mention that the text area in 50th Law is 10cm x 16cm and in 48 LoP it is 11cm x 20cm, which would be another 28% reduction, and now we're down to 137 pages! Normally I wouldn't gripe about this stuff. If the content is good, who cares right?
That's where the next complaint comes in. There isn't much substance, which leads to repetition and unnecessary details. The only thing this book has to teach is to be fearless. What should you be fearless of? Well, there's 10 things (according to this book):
1.) reality (see things for what they really are)
2.) self-reliance and being your own unique self
3.) life's unexpected difficulties (see the positive in any negative situation)
5.) aggression (your own- do not be afraid to fight)
6.) leading an army from the front as opposed to the back
7.) connection with customers
Add in a couple of pages for each topic and you probably have 50 good pages of content (assuming you didn't know any of this stuff already- and how could you not?). The advice is either self-evident or has been around for ages.
Not worth the $19 I spent.
on February 16, 2012
I have read many books regarding the sources of power, influence, and guidance, in addition to many business books and such. The great majority are fluffy reiterations of the same old thing.
This book blows all that away in many ways. The book discusses everything from fear to power, and understanding how we imprison ourselves with limitations, advice from others, looking outside of ourselves for answers, and not undestanding the true nature of our power.
I have read this book over seven times and I am reading certain chapters again. This just means the ideas presented are deeply rooted in a lot of truth, and you really need to pause and digest some of it. It is an extremely powerful book.
It may not have much value for people who have not been through major battles, confronted real enemies, or have seen the ground shift beneath them. But I am guessing most people will experience this sooner or later.
From this perspective, the book is a gold mine of info, one of the best I've seen from a sheer philosophical and practical viewpoint.
Read it, read it again, and begin to take action from a new perspective.
on December 2, 2009
The 50th Law is a truly unique book. Easy to read but difficult to categorize, it is part biography, part business memoir, part personal-development, part philosophy. The 50th Law is co-authored by hip-hop artist 50 Cent and Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, a book which has become a classic in the world of hip-hop.
As an avid reader of Mr. Greene's previous work, I will remind the reader that the work is a collaboration, and there are differences from what we can usually expect from the author. The most noticeable change from his other books is the book length. While shorter than his other three books, The 50th Law is focused on depth instead of breadth, which provides an even greater level of insight into the topic. The new book does contain Greene's trademark style of historical quotes, situational analysis, and stories that perfectly illustrate the content, though in a much more condensed fashion. A second change that becomes apparent is the look and style of the book. The black cover, embossing, and the gold rimmed pages are evocative of the Bible and its many life stories. In this book, 50 Cent's message and life story are the paint and Robert Greene is the painter; together they have created a potent combination.
The previous works by Mr. Greene have examined topics of power, seduction and war in a comprehensive approach that enlightens the reader and encourages further research. The 50th Law presents more of a specific philosophy; by limiting the book to a single concept, rather than shifting topics, it allows for more exploration in depth. Whereas his previous books were cerebral, The 50th Law is more intuitive. The knowledge comes from survival stories, not the library stacks.
The topic of The 50th Law is fearlessness. Fear is a topic that is usually ignored, but when it is addressed it is approached by focusing on fear itself. This approach can be ineffective as it does little more than encourage the reader to focus on how much there is to fear. Ralph Waldo Emerson in Self-Reliance stated: "Let a Stoic open the resources of man and tell men they are not leaning willows, but can and must detach themselves; that with the exercise of self-trust, new powers shall appear." The 50th Law provides the tools for achieving self-reliance by becoming fearless. The goal of this book is to encourage readers to learn to take control of their own lives. The task is accomplished, not by ignoring fear, but rather by learning to make it work for you.
50 Cent and Robert Greene present us with the first book of the 21st century to effectively analyze this new breed of fearless entrepreneur, one who traverses the gap between traditional business and the street. The line between the two has been blurred in recent years with the success of artists such as 50 Cent. The artist is yet another example of a rapper who has become successful in the music industry in part due to the skills that he learned as a street hustler. While it might seem that without the benefit of a "traditional" business background, this new brand of entrepreneur would be at a disadvantage, one cannot overlook the principles that made them successful. 50 Cent's focus, persistence, creativity and fearlessness catapulted him into the entertainment industry and beyond. Despite initially being blacklisted in the music industry, 50 Cent established himself as a multi-platinum selling performer and a new model for aspiring entrepreneurs. Lucrative deals such as his payday from Coca-Cola who acquired ownership of Glacéau (from which 50 Cent earned an estimated $50-$100 million for his minority stake) have only added to his reputation for business acumen.
Divided into ten chapters, The 50th Law gives a clear introduction to fearlessness and then works methodically through various aspects that equip the reader to embrace it. Once the external fears in the environment are discussed it becomes more personal and brings the reader closer to the final chapter which examines the ultimate fear, death. A powerful part of this book includes the real life examples from 50 Cent's past, including the business obstacles and the danger of deadly violence. 50 Cent is able to share the clarity that he acquired by facing his own mortality and how it became clear to him that the best way to conquer fear is not to avoid it, but to push right into it and move past it. Through is the only way out.
The 50th Law reminds the reader how fear limits our options in life. If we are shackled by fear it will bind us to something less than what is possible. By living in fear, we become hardened to life, and are unable to adapt to one of life's few constants, change. A key part of change is action. Those who embrace change are proactive, while those who resist change are reactive. 50 Cent is a prime example of the power of being proactive in one's life. The final chapter discusses death as something we need not view as being distant, unknown or abstract. Rather, the fragility of life is a concept to be aware of each moment. The 50th Law teaches us that as life is ticking away we must embrace it and fearlessly give our all. We never know when we will greet our final form of change, death.
In my opinion, there are two main books with which The 50th Law shares common themes; the first book is Think and Grow Rich and the second is The Book of Five Rings. The 50th Law shares a philosophy with each of these books that the current authors have brought into the 21st century.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is a study of those who became exceedingly wealthy and successful in late 19th century and early 20th century America. Both Hill's book and The 50th Law offer readers a blueprint for success. Each addresses the desire for a goal, having a clearly defined vision of how to achieve that goal, as well as how to anticipate and overcome obstacles along the way. The key aspect which The 50th Law and Think and Grow Rich have in common is that they both are primers on effectively overcoming fear to achieve results. As the two books share similarities, I can easily suggest that an alternate title for The 50th Law could be "Act and Grow Fearless". In a humorous coincidence, chapter one of Hill's book contains a story entitled "A Fifty-Cent Lesson in Persistence"; how fitting, Mr. Hill.
The Book of Five Rings comes not from the traditional business arena but from the business end of a weapon. Miyamoto Musashi was a 17th century Japanese swordsman whose text encapsulates his philosophy of life, death and the warrior's way. Musashi details the mindset he possessed while facing death in his many battles. His control over his emotions and his focused dedication to his craft are what led to his victory against many other skilled adversaries. In essence, the battle was won before it began. He did not wait to win his battles; they were won in training, paid for with long hours of bloody knuckles, sweat, and tears. 50 Cent's approach mirrors Musashi's mindset and dedication to success. One conclusion that can be drawn from both authors is that life is war. The man facing down a blade and the man facing a new business deal are both fighting for their lives. By understanding that fear must not control our decisions, we will attain the mindset that we must strive for as students of The 50th Law. As Musashi would tell us, "You should investigate this thoroughly."
An issue that is important within all three of these books is that change is never easy. There is a price to pay for a worthy goal and a price to pay for inaction, indecision, and fear. If one wants to change his or her situation, a sacrifice must be placed on the altar of life. These sacrifices may be time, money, or the blood and sweat of hard work. Never is anything free, and whether by the pain of change or the pain of regret, the pain of life will be paid. There is an admiration for the masters of certain realms; be it sports, business, art, science, or war, these masters have paid the price of admission for greatness in their field. There are no shortcuts.
The 50th Law flows well from one chapter to the next. There are some stories from 50 Cent's life that are used as examples which are referred to several times for emphasis. However I did not find this to be as repetitive as some who have stated their criticism of it. I consider the content and writing style of this book worthy of a five-star rating. My only complaints would be the lack of a table of contents and the omission of an index. Nevertheless, 50 Cent and Robert Greene have accomplished a difficult feat in the task of collaboration, producing a work that maintains the style of both parties without sacrificing the quality or integrity of either author. However one may label it, The 50th Law is a significant work and a worthy follow-up to Greene's previous efforts.
on December 23, 2013
Mr. Greene's treatise about fear and its fundamental causes is essential in today's world. If one looks at our society as a whole, and tries to look as deeply as possible, one can see that most of one's actions and those of others are made up of fear based choices. By that I mean, people often choose things based on fear and may not know or be fully aware of it. This book opened my eyes to my own fears and forced me to see what really frightens me. Now that I'm clear on those things, I have a better understanding of how to deal with or even eliminate these unnecessary emotions. This book taught me that fear is just something you experience when you're not really prepared for something that matters to you. Think about it.
on February 8, 2010
This is a great little book that shows how one very disadvantaged young man overcame fear and turned his back on a potentially brief life of drug pushing to become a successful rapper and music business entrepreneur.
As an 84 year-old great-grandmother who picked the book at my local public library, I found it inspirational in understanding how to reach youth who do drugs to be "one of the guys". I ordered copies for three grandsons, two of whom have had drug problems and the other, alcohol. In this they can see how they have caved in to fear of not belonging, and how, by becoming fearless, they can achieve success in the world.