get others to do the work for you but always be eyes on your action





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.


In 1883 a young Serbian scientist named Nikola Tesla was working for the

European division of the Continental Edison Company. He was a brilliant

inventor, and Charles Batchelor, a plant manager and a personal friend of

Thomas Edison, persuaded him he should seek his fortune in America, giving hirn a letter of introduction to Edison hirnself. So began a life of woe

and tribulation that lasted until Tesla's death.

When Tesla met Edison in New York, the famous inventor hired him

on the spot. Tesla worked eighteen-hour days, finding ways to improve the

primitive Edison dynamos. Finally he offered to redesign them completely.

To Edison this seemed a monumental task that could last years without

paying off, but he told Tesla, "There's fifty thousand dollars in it for you-if

you can do it." Tesla labored day and night on the project and after only a

year he produced a greatly improved version of the dynamo, complete

with automatie controls. He went to Edison to break the good news and receive his $50,000. Edison was pleased with the improvement, for which he

and his company would take credit, but when it came to the issue of the

money he told the young Serb, "Tesla, you don't understand our American

humor!," and offered a small raise instead.

Tesla's obsession was to create an altemating-current system (AC) of

electricity. Edison believed in the direct-current system (DC), and not only

refused to support Tesla's research but later did all he could to sabotage

him. Tesla tumed to the great Pittsburgh magnate George Westinghouse,

who had started his own electricity company. Westinghouse completely

funded Tesla's research and offered hirn a generous royalty agreement on

future profits. The AC system Tesla developed is still the standard todaybut after patents were filed in his name, other scientists came forward to

take credit for the invention, claiming that they had laid the groundwork

for hirn. His name was lost in the shuffle, and the public came to associate

the invention with Westinghouse hirnself.

A year later, Westinghouse was caught in a takeover bid from

J. Pierpont Morgan, who made hirn rescind the generous royalty contract

he had signed with Tesla. Westinghouse explained to the scientist that his

company would not survive if it had to pay hirn his full royalties; he persuaded Tesla to accept a buyout of his patents for $216,000-a large sum,

no doubt, but far less than the $12 million they were worth at the time. The

financiers had divested Tesla of the riches, the patents, and essentially the

credit for the greatest invention of his career.

The name of Guglielmo Marconi is forever linked with the invention

of radio. But few know that in producing his invention-he broadcast a signal across the English Channel in 1899-Marconi made use of a patent

Tesla had filed in 1897, and that his work depended on Tesla's research.

Once again Tesla received no money and no credit. Tesla invented an induction motor as well as the AC power system, and he is the real "father of

radio." Yet none of these discoveries bear his name. As an old man, he

lived in poverty.




One day the tortoise

met the elephant, who

trumpeted, "Out of my

way, you weaklingI might step on you!"

The tortoise was not

afraid and stayed

where he was, so the

elephant stepped on

him, but could not

crush him. "Da not

boast, Mr. Elephant, I

am as strang as you

are!" said the tortoise,

but the elephant just

laughed. So the tortoise

asked him to come

to his hill the next


The next day, before

sunrise, the tortoise ran

down the hili to the

river, where he met the

hippopotamus, who

was just on his way

back into the water

after his nocturnal

feeding. "Mr Hippo!

Shall we have a tug·olwar? I bet I'm as

strang as you are!"

said the tortoise. The

hippopotamus laughed

at this ridiculous idea,

but agreed. The tortoise

produced a lang rope

and told the hippo to

hold it in his mouth

until the tortoise

shouted "Hey!"

Then the tortoise ran

back up the hili where

he found the elephant,

who was getting impa·

tient. He gave the

elephant the other end

ofthe rope and said,

"When I say 'Hey!'

pull, and you '11 see

which of us is the

strongest." Then he ran

halfway back down the

LAW 7 57

hili, 10 a place where he

('ouldn 'I he seen, ami

ShO/lled, "Hey!" The

elephant and Ihe

hippopotamus pulled

and pulled, hul neirher

{'()/lId hudge Ihe

olher�lhey were oI

eq/lal strengllz. They

hoth agreed thaI Ihe

{orloise was os slrong

as Ihey were.

Never do wh al olhers

can do for you. The lorloise leI olhers do Ihe

work for him while he

goI Ihe erettil.


To he sure, iI the hunler

relies on Ihe securily of

Ihe ('arriage, IIlilizes Ihe

legs of Ihe six horses,

ami makes Wang Liang

hold Iheir reins, Ihen he

will nol lire himself

and will find il easy 10

overlake swill animals.

N()lV supposing he

discarded Ihe advanlage o/Ihe carriage,

gave up Ihe IIseflll legs

of Ihe 11Orse.\' and the

skill of Wang Liang,

and alighled 10 run

afier Ihe animal,I'

, then

even lllOUgh his legs

were as quick w·; Lou

Chi's, he wOllld nol he

in lime to overlake rhe

animals. In fact, if'good

hor.\'(,,\' alld strong

carriages arc laken info

use, Ihen mere hondnU!fl and !Julldwolnen

will be good enough 10

calch rhe animals.

H A)\;-f<EI-TZL,


TI!lR!) CENTl l RY H.C,

58 LAW 7

In 1917, during his later impoverished years, Tesla was told he was to

receive the Edison Medal of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers.

He tumed the medal down. "You propose, " he said, "to honor me with a

medal which I could pin upon my coat and strut for a vain hOUf before the

members of your Institute. You would decorate my body and continue to

let starve, for failure to supply recognition, my mind and its creative products, which have supplied the foundation upon which the major portion of

your Institute exists."


Many harbor the illusion that science, dealing with facts as it does, is beyond the petty rivalries that trouble the rest of the world. Nikola Tesla was

one of those. He believed science had nothing to do with politics, and

claimed not to care for farne and riches, As he grew older, though, this ruined his scientific work. Not associated with any particular discovery, he

could attract no investors to his many ideas. While he pondered great inventions for the future, others stole the patents he had already developed

and got the glory for themselves.

He wanted to do everything on his own, but merely exhausted and impoverished hirnself in the process.

Edison was Tesla's polar opposite. He wasn't actually much of a scientific thinker or inventor; he once said that he had no need to be a mathematician because he could always hire one. That was Edison's main

method. He was really a businessman and publicist, spotting the trends and

the opportunities that were out there, then hiring the best in the field to do

the work for him. If he had to he would steal from his competitors. Yet his

name is much better known than Tesla's, and is associated with more inventions.

The lesson is twofold: First, the credit for an invention or creation is as

important, if not more important, than the invention itself. You must seeUfe

the credit for YOUfseif and keep others from stealing it away, or from piggybacking on YOUf hard work. To accomplish this you must always be vigilant

and ruthless, keeping YOUf creation quiet until you can be SUfe there are no

vultures circling overhead. Second, leam to take advantage of other people's work to further YOUf own cause. Time is precious and life is short. If

you try to do it all on YOUf own, you run yourself ragged, waste energy, and

bum yourself out. It is far better to conserve your forces, pounce on the

work others have done, and find a way to make it YOUf own.

Everybody steals in commerce and industry.

I've stolen a lot myself.

But I know how to steal.

Thomas Edison, 1 84 7-1 931


The world of power has the dynamics of the jungle: There are those who

live by hunting and killing, and there are also vast numbers of creatures

(hyenas, vultures) who live off the hunting of others. These latter, less

imaginative types are often incapable of doing the work that is essential for

the creation of power. They understand early on, though, that if they wait

long enough, they can always find another animal to do the work for them.

Do not be naive: At this very moment, while you are slaving away on some

project, there are vultures cirding above trying to figure out a way to survive and even thrive off your creativity. It is useless to complain about this,

or to wear yourself ragged with bittemess, as Tesla did. Better to protect

yourself and join the game. Once you have established a power base, become a vulture yourself, and save yourself a lot of time and energy.

Of the two poles of this game, one can be illustrated by the example of

the explorer Vasco Nliiiez de Balboa. Balboa had an obsession-the discovery of EI Dorado, a legendary city of vast riches.

Early in the sixteenth century, after countless hardships and brushes

with death, he found evidence of a great and wealthy empire to the south

of Mexico, in present-day Peru. By conquering this empire, the Incan, and

seizing its gold, he would make hirnself the next Cortes. The problem was

that even as he made this discovery, word of it spread among hundreds of

other conquistadors. He did not understand that half the game was keeping

it quiet, and carefully watching those around hirn. A few years after he discovered the location of the Incan empire, a soldier in his own army, Francisco Pizarro, helped to get hirn beheaded for treason. Pizarro went on to

take what Balboa had spent so many years trying to find.

The other pole is that of the artist Peter Paul Rubens, who, late in his

career, found hirnself deluged with requests for paintings. He created a system: In his large studio he employed dozens of outstanding painters, one

specializing in robes, another in backgrounds, and so on. He created a vast

production line in which a large number of canvases would be worked on

at the same time. When an important dient visited the studio, Rubens

would shoo his hired painters out for the day. While the dient watched

from a balcony, Rubens would work at an incredible pace, with unbelievable energy. The dient would leave in awe of this prodigious man, who

could paint so many masterpieces in so short a time.

This is the essence of the Law: Leam to get others to do the work for

you while you take the credit, and you appear to be of godlike strength and

power. If you think it important to do all the work yourself, you will never

get far, and you will suffer the fate of the Balboas and Teslas of the world.

Find people with the skills and creativity you lack. Either hire them, while

putting your own name on top of theirs, or find a way to take their work

and make it your own. Their creativity thus becomes yours, and you seem

a genius to the world.

There is another application of this law that does not require the parasitic use of your contemporaries' labor: Use the past, a vast storehouse of

1 1 1 1· 11 1 . 1 ''' ) 111 \

A hen wllO had !osl her

sighl, und wo" a('elf.\'­

(ol}u!d f() scratching up

Ihe carlh in sellrch oI

fl)(!d, 1I1riwI/gh blind,

.l'Ii!! eol1linlled (()

s('rurch lIH'llY 111os1 (liligenl!V. Ur whal l/se "'lIS

it t() {he indusfrious

!()(!!� Another sllllrpsighlcd 1/('11 wlw spllred

her leI/der f,'ci l/"" er

lIIoved fi-o/ll her side,

11m! mjoved, wilhol/I

scralching, Ihe fi-lIil oI

Ihe olher's !abor. For 1I.'

oflen os Ihe Nil/d !zen

sera Ich cd 1If! 1I !JlIr!evcorn, her ",alehfili

cOlnjJanioll dcvoured



GOTTI IOLD L �'S<';II\'( i,

1 729- 1 7H I

LAW 7 59

60 LAW 7

knowledge and wisdom. Isaac Newton called this "standing on the shoulders of giants." He meant that in making his discoveries he had built on the

achievements of others. A great part of his aura of genius, he knew, was attributable to his shrewd ability to make the most of the insights of ancient,

medieval, and Renaissance scientists. Shakespeare borrowed plots, characterizations, and even dialogue from Plutarch, among other writers, for he

knew that nobody surpassed Plutarch in the writing of subtle psychology

and witty quotes. How many later writers have in their turn borrowed


We all know how few of today's politicians write their own speeches.

Their own words would not win them a single vote; their eloquence and

wit, whatever there is of it, they owe to a speech writer. Other people

do the work, they take the credit. The upside of this is that it is a kind

of power that is available to everyone. Leam to use the knowledge of the

past and you will look like a genius, even when you are really just a dever


Writers who have delved into human nature, ancient masters of strategy, historians of human stupidity and folly, kings and queens who have

leamed the hard way how to handle the burdens of power-their knowledge is gathering dust, waiting for you to come and stand on their shoulders. Their wit can be your wit, their skill can be your skill, and they will

never come around to tell people how unoriginal you really are. You can

slog through life, making endless mistakes, wasting time and energy trying

to do things from your own experience. Or you can use the armies of the

past. As Bismarck once said, "Fools say that they leam by experience. I

prefer to profit by others' experience." 

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