When is honesty not truly honest? And when is generosity less than generous? Ethical issues unravel as we venture into the seeming contradictions of Law 12. In this episode we explain how to master the skill of the indirect approach and what it means to give before you take, all the while fighting our cultural conditioning which assumes anything but constant and total honesty is somehow a bad thing… We explain why this is not only bad advice, but is totally hypocritical in the first place. We ponder how Trojan Horses work in the modern world and challenge you to try a random act of generosity and observe its effects. And Jon gives an update on how well he’s managing to implement the 48 Laws of Power into his own life (clue: it’s less than smoothly). Rounded off with a spontaneous and powerful discussion about cultural appropriation, this is one packed episode, so let’s get into it!



  • Random Acts of Honesty: Find someone you normally see as a rival or enemy and do something thoughtful or nice for them. Buy them a gift. A thoughtful but inexpensive one; give it without an agenda… And observe the consequences.
    • Let us know what happens next in the comments below: Do they change their behaviour towards you? How did the balance of the relationship shift afterwards?


This Episode includes:

  • Why honesty is a blunt instrument
  • The perils of bundling asshole-ishness
  • When to bring up the things you want
  • Deploying different versions of yourself at the right time
  • The importance of losing… and learning
  • How to give before taking what you want: the art of strategic gifting
  • Seducing your target with selective revelations about yourself
  • The difference between looking your best and showing off
  • Don’t waste your time giving feedback, even when asked for it
  • What happens if you’re simply ‘yourself’ all the time? Are you dishonest with yourself if a big part of you would rather just sit home and eat cake all day?
  • Master the skill of nesting your real deception inside a series of fake deceptions
  • Avoid random acts of honesty: focus and choose your targets wisely
  • What singing in public can do for you
  • Dre’s personal philosophy revelations courtesy of a Large Salad Dressing experience: If you don’t cater to people’s basic needs out of some sort of misplaced intellectual puritanism, you’re doomed to fail
  • Why cultural appropriation is usually a very good thing
  • Remember: other people don’t have to follow your rules and probably won’t

Mentioned in the Episode:

  • Our favourite Bismarck T-Shirt, designed by the wonderful Savannah Em
  • Misanthrotees – cynical t-shirts to arm yourself against the tough world outside your door
  • ‘You win or you learn’ – the quote Dre mentioned has been said by lots of people, it turns out, as a casual Google reveals
  • Ryan Holiday’s excellent book on Stoicism, [easyazon_link identifier=”1591846358″ locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]The Obstacle is the Way[/easyazon_link]
  • Marcus Aurelius’s life-changing and life-affirming [easyazon_link identifier=”B005GAB8HS” locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]Meditations[/easyazon_link]
  • Robert Harris’s historical novels, [easyazon_link identifier=”0812974611″ locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]Pompeii[/easyazon_link], [easyazon_link identifier=”0743498666″ locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]Imperium[/easyazon_link], [easyazon_link identifier=”0099406322″ locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]Lustrum[/easyazon_link], and [easyazon_link identifier=”0307948137″ locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]Dictator[/easyazon_link]
  • Turns out Dre was right and ‘didactical’ is a word. Points to Dre!
  • The artist Alexander Ward – check out his amazing [easyazon_link identifier=”1611250536″ locale=”US” tag=”vointhda-20″]Ayahuasca Jungle Visions: A Coloring Book[/easyazon_link]
  • Former Dire Straits frontman, Mark Knopfler


Join us as we continue our 48 Laws of Power review, exploring Robert Greene’s provocative and compelling book, in which he lays bare the history, practice, psychology, and philosophies of power that ultimately shape all human relations. Often seen as a handbook for the ‘modern Machiavelli’, we take a closer look, beyond the hyperbole, and discuss how understanding and implementing these Laws can actually enrich your life personally, professionally and spiritually.

Jon and Dre aim to get to the heart of each of the Laws, grapple with their sometimes disturbingly amoral nature, and discuss what the Laws mean in everyday life (often revealing their own experiences – good and bad – when they’ve either observed or transgressed them).

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48 Laws of Power T-Shirts

Each of these original T-Shirts includes an elegantly presented quotation illustrating the Law.

Law 12: ‘When you are about to take, you should give’ – Han Fei (280-233 BC)

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