“If the world is like a giant scheming court and we are trapped inside it, there is no use in trying to opt out of the game of power. That will only render you powerless, and powerlessness will make you miserable. Instead of struggling against the inevitable, instead of whining and feeling guilty, is it far better to excel at power. In fact, the better you are at dealing with power, the better friend, lover, husband, wife, and person you become.” (Greene. 48 Laws of Power, 1998).
And with a networth of $13.8billion, as of day 1, 2018, Dangote is surely a better everything in Nigeria, Africa, and the world at large. Since this 60 year old man blazed upon the Forbes list in the early 2000s, his networth has gone in only one direction – up. And despite the changing business climes, locally and globally, it continues to go in only one direction – (you could have guessed it by now) up.
Close associates and friends have attested to this business mogul’s love for reading – this man, is a voracious reader. And you have to be when you oversee a business empire stretching from Egypt to Nigeria and all the way down to South Africa. And though most of his business concerns are based in Africa’s most populous country, we couldn’t help but notice that though, through the years, Dangote’s business philosophies have been hinged on several guiding beacons derived from several worthwhile managerial gurus, a few of his erstwhile philosophies have come from the book, The 48 Laws of Power, and this book, though not a business book in the total sense of it, can teach us many thing many things as have been thought to Dangote.
So, let’s take a critical look at just 5 of the Laws from Robert Greene’s 1998 bestseller that Africa’s richest man almost surely adopts in life, and most importantly, business.
48th Law, Number 1: – Never Outshine the Master: – Always make those above you feel comfortably superior. In your desire to please or impress them, do not go too far in displaying your talents or you might accomplish the opposite – inspire fear and insecurity. Make your masters appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power.
With all the wealth, power and connection this 60 year old wields, never once has he been known of heard of, in public sha o!, to criticize the brass of Nigerian politics or policy making. In fact, when once asked to comment about a controversial government policy enacted at the time, Aliko simply said “I’m sure they know what they are doing” and that was that.
Lessons learnt: – Do not fool yourself into thinking that life has changed much since the days of Louis XIV. Those who attain high standing in life and society are like kings and queens. They want to feel secure in their positions. It is deadly but common misperception to believe that by displaying and vaunting your gifts, talent and wealth you’re winning the master’s affection. He may feign appreciation but at the first opportunity he will replace you with someone less intelligent, less attractive and less threatening. By letting others above you take the glory, you remain in control, instead of being a victim of their insecurities. This will all come in handy the day you decide to rise above your inferior status.
48th Law, Number 4: – Always Say Less Than Necessary: – When you are trying to impress people with words, the more you say, the more common you appear, and the less in control. Even if you are trying to say something banal, it will seem original if you make it vague, open–minded, and sphinx–like. Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.
Now, outside business, Aliko is one man who rarely talks about anything else. Even with the financial arsenal at his disposal, he cautiously, and wise stays away from politics, its entangling’s and any small talk, that will not eventually see him a billion dollars richer by the end of that chitchat. He is known to say very little unless asked a direct question, even amongst friends.
Lessons learnt: Keep your big mouth and small thoughts to yourself, no matter how tempting the conversation. If it veers towards the banal, respect yourself and whatever reputation you’re trying to build and stay the course of profitability; unless you’re paid a huge sum to blab – don’t!
48th Law, Number 7: – Get Others To Do The Work For You, But Always Take The Credit: – Use the wisdom, knowledge and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed. In the end your helpers will be forgotten and you will be remembered. Never do yourself what others can do for you.
Dangote Industries employs more than 10, 000 people across different sector of the Nigerian economy, all of which are working tirelessly to see the company grow. Now, Africa’s richest man surely cannot do it all alone, but he sure knows how to recruit them and keep them happy as word also has it that staff–turnover in his companies are amongst the lowest in the country.
Lessons learnt: To have and keep power, you must free yourself up of the drudgeries of day to day life and elevate your mind to where your future needs to be and work towards that, and only that. Find good people who are willing to help run with and handle the boring parts of your dream and pay them well – in fact, pay them more than they want (if you can afford it), then stay out of their way, and watch the rise to power–dom happen.
48th Law, Number 15: – Crush Your Enemies Totally: – All great leaders since Moses have known that a feared enemy must be crushed completely. (Sometimes they have leant this the hard way). If one ember is left alight, no matter how dimly it smolders, a fire will eventually break out. More is lost through stopping halfway than through total annihilation. The enemy will recover and will seek revenge. Crush him, not only in body, but in spirit.
Often over the years, we have heard tales, some of them quite tall, of how spanners are mysteriously thrown into the working wheels of Aliko’s closest rivals and business competition. Pricing wars are a very good example of this strategy. Though never once has he ever been found complicit of allegations, it is easy to understand that, in some cases, in order to make it to the converted top and stay there, everybody else has to be number two – and by as long a distance as possible.
Lessons learnt: Have no mercy. Crush your enemies as totally as they would crush you. Ultimately, the only peace and security you can hope for from your enemies is their disappearance. It is not of course a question of murder; it is a question of banishment. Sufficiently weakened and then exiled from your court forever, your enemies are rendered harmless. (Greene: 48 Laws of Power. Pg. 112 and 113)
48th Law, Number 18: – Do Not Build Fortresses To Protect Yourself – Isolation is Dangerous: – The world is dangerous and enemies are everywhere – everyone has to protect themselves. A fortress seems the safest. But isolation exposes you to more dangers than it protects you from – it cuts you off from valuable information, and supplies, makes you conspicuous and an easy target. Better to circulate among people, find allies; mingle. You are shielded by the crowd.
Dangote is one man who is not only recognized, respected and accepted almost the world over, He brings so much to the table of business that it is hard to ever not see him in a swarming company of friends, business associates and of course, political figures and arrowheads. His success is theirs, and vice–versa. He is friends, on a personal level, with almost every African leader, and foreign dignitary of note.
Lessons learnt: Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favorable to virtue… Remember that the solitary mortal is certainly luxurious, probably superstitious, and almost possibly mad. (Dr. Samuel Jackson, 1709 – 1784). (Greene: 48 Laws of Power. Pg. 133).
All in all, “Learning the game of power requires a certain way of looking at the world, a shifting of perspective. It takes effort and years of practice”, as Dangote has shown, “for much of the game may not come naturally. Certain basic skills are required; once you master these skills you will be able to apply the laws of power more easily.”
But remember, power is not only exciting; it is the ultimate in man’s reach to personal achievement. A warning however; Power is endlessly seductive and deceptive in its own way. It is a labyrinth – your mind becomes consumed with solving its infinite problems, and you soon realize how pleasantly lost you have become. In other words, it becomes most interesting by taking it seriously. Do not be frivolous with such a critical matter. The gods of power frown on the frivolous and give ultimate satisfaction those who study and reflect on its judicious use and punish those who skim the surface looking only for a good time and quick perishable gains.
Good luck with your business dealings in 2018!!!
Brain Essien is writing from Lagos