7 Rules of Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD (Key Takeaways)

Surprising–but True–Advice on How to Get Things Done and Advance Your Career

7 Rules of Power by Jeffrey Pfeffer, PhD (Key Takeaways)

Powerful Habits

  • Ask for advice, a job, or help.
  • Ask people to dinner, lunch, or a party. Even better: a podcast.
  • Follow up!
  • Never make a public apology.
  • Make YouTube videos, podcasts, books, blogs, newsletters, and Tweets.
  • Ask each podcast guest who two other people you should interview are. Then ask them if they can get you in contact with them.
  • Meet up in person with 1 new person a week. (This can be a podcast.)
  • Always send birthday texts.
  • Connect with industry professionals on LinkedIn and Twitter.
  • Always think about how you can connect 2 people in your network.

4 Main Rules of Power:

  1. Break the Rules
  2. Appear Powerful
  3. Branding
  4. Networking

Break the Rules

  1. “Break the Rules” is the mindset for appearing powerful, branding, pitching, and networking.
  2. Lie and embellish.
  3. Be bold.
  4. Ask for things: Get used to asking, being turned down, and asking again, or for different things from different people.

Appear Powerful

  • Appearance—how someone shows up with both body language and spoken language—matters a great deal for how others perceive them.
  • Be tall (if you're a woman, wear heels that make you taller).
  • Be attractive (dress well, shave, be fit).
  • Never use written notes.
  • Never apologize. Deny any wrongdoing. Ex: Bill Clinton-Lewinsky scandal.
  • Have Alexander the Great or Kanye West self-confidence.
  • Use powerful speech. No ‘um’, repeat key points, and use frameworks of 3 or 4.
  • "Break the rules" applies heavily: people are fundamentally trusting and don't do due diligence. People become committed to their decisions.
  • Jeffrey Pfeffer & Robert Cialdini: “There is evidence that not making positive assertions about oneself or one’s work can be taken as a negative signal.”


  • Podcast, book, blog, newsletter, Tweet, videos, speak at conferences, or start a conference, do media appearances.
  • Be mildly controversial to attract attention.
  • Have great social media profiles.
  • Leverage the names of high-status businesses and people you are affiliated with.
  • Style is part of your brand. Style is more than just clothes. It’s also how you walk, act, and talk, the car you drive, and the alcoholic drink you choose.


  • Have a 2-3 sentence story or pitch prepared for each of your projects.


  • Be the first one to reach out. Ask for advice. Follow up.
  • Invite people to dinners and parties.
  • Meet up with new people in person.
  • Always send birthday messages or calls.
  • Network deliberately and relentlessly. Spend 10+ hours a week deliberately networking with useful (industry/founder/investor) connections.

4 Keys to Networking:

  1. Casual acquaintances > strong relationships. Pfeffer cites a study that found that weak ties (casual acquaintances) are much more useful in career–job referrals, etc.–than strong relationships (close friends, family). This is why LinkedIn is so powerful. All of your connections are weak ties. A birthday message or call every year is all you need to maintain a weak tie. Also, if you have a mutual hobby or interest, send them an interesting article on the topic periodically.
  2. Be a matchmaker. Bring together two parties that can help each other. Ex: match a photographer you just met with a model in your network.
  3. Get close to successful people. Buy your way into expensive places. Get a job that reports to the CEO. Buy a Porsche to get into a Porsche club. Buy a Rolex to network with other Rolex owners. Pay for an Equinox membership. The successful live in gated communities (figuratively and literally)—they let their guard down inside the community.
  4. Give value (for free, at first). Study your target online and discover what they like and need. Find out their biggest problem, then fix it. Try to fix it in person. Value can be as small as a compliment or as big as working for free for a year. Also, make it clear how they can help you–make your requests for help, a job, or advice very specific and ask explicitly.

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