The Prince

The Prince is undoubtly one of the wisest books that has ever been written. There are not many other books offering an insight into human psychology that were written 500 years ago that can be picked up and applied to many different situations. How to come out on top of internal politics, succeed in mergers and govern countries are all areas that The Prince offers guidance.

I can think of no higher praise that should I ever come into a management position, I shall keep a copy of this book on my desk for reference. There was one passage that convinced me of its worth in today's business environment:

"It is much safer to be feared than loved... For one can generally say this about men: they are ungrateful, fickle, simulators and deceivers, avoiders of danger and greedy for gain. While you work for their benefit they are completely yours, offering you their blood, their property, their lives... but when it draws nearer to you they turn away."

And therein would appear to be one of the secrets to running a succesful business, treating employees and customers fairly.

Aside from being interpreted as a business guide, The Prince is also an interesting account of the politics and history of 15th Century Italy. It obviously has multi-uses, but there is one area that I shan't be taking Machiavelli's advice: how to treat women.

"...because Fortune is a woman, and if you want to keep her under it is necessary to beat her and force her down."

Looks like there is some truth to that stereotype....


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