If You Want to Change the World, You Need Power: Part 1 | Summary and Q&A

October 12, 2020
Stanford Graduate School of Business
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If You Want to Change the World, You Need Power: Part 1


Developing personal qualities like ambition, confidence, and resilience is crucial for wielding power and influence in organizations and society.

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Questions & Answers

Q: How does ambition contribute to acquiring power?

Ambition is crucial as it provides the motivation and drive to work hard and achieve success. Without ambition, one may lack the necessary effort required to acquire power and triumph in competitive situations.

Q: Why is confidence important in exercising power?

Confidence is contagious, and acting with confidence makes others believe in your leadership abilities. Body language, speaking skills, and persuasive communication are all key components of appearing confident and influencing others.

Q: How does resilience contribute to success?

Setbacks are inevitable, but resilience and persistence allow individuals to overcome challenges and keep working towards their goals. By wearing down the opposition through perseverance, one can achieve success.

Q: Why is understanding others' motivations important for influence?

To effectively influence others, it is crucial to understand their desires and preferences. By crafting messages and offers that align with what they want, individuals can increase their chances of success in influencing others.


In this video, the speaker discusses the importance of power in changing lives, organizations, and the world. He identifies two major categories of sources of power: personal qualities and skills. Personal qualities such as ambition, confidence, and energy are contagious and can greatly influence others. Acting skills, body language, and persuasive communication are also vital in exercising power. The speaker emphasizes the significance of persistence and resilience in facing setbacks, as well as the need to understand and cater to others' motivations in order to influence them effectively. He advises against excessive concern for being liked by others, as people primarily evaluate individuals based on their ability to get things done. Lastly, he challenges the notion of authenticity, suggesting that being true to what others need from you is more important than being true to yourself. Overall, the speaker encourages embracing the world as it is and developing the skills necessary to influence and effect change.

Questions & Answers

Q: What are some personal qualities that contribute to acquiring power?

Personal qualities such as ambition, confidence, and energy are fundamental in acquiring power. Ambition is necessary as it motivates individuals to put in the hard work required for success. Confidence, when displayed through actions and body language, is contagious and attracts followers. High energy levels also draw people towards an individual.

Q: How important is acting like a leader in exercising power?

Acting like a leader is crucial in exercising power. By embodying the expected behavior of a leader, individuals can inspire confidence in others and gain their support. This includes using expansive body language, developing acting skills, and mastering persuasive speaking techniques.

Q: How do persistence and resilience contribute to success?

Persistence and resilience are key traits that contribute to success, especially in the face of setbacks. No matter how intelligent or charming a person may be, setbacks are inevitable. The most successful individuals are those who possess the determination to keep going despite adversity. By wearing down the opposition through continued effort, they can ultimately achieve their goals.

Q: How does understanding others' motivations contribute to influencing them?

In order to influence others effectively, it is important to understand what motivates them. By knowing what drives individuals and crafting messages and offers that align with their desires, one can increase their chances of influencing them successfully. This requires empathy and the ability to tailor communication to resonate with others.

Q: What should one prioritize in work organizations - being liked or getting things done?

In work organizations, the ability to get things done takes precedence over being liked by others. While some people worry excessively about being liked or what others think of them, the reality is that individuals are primarily evaluated based on their ability to accomplish tasks and achieve goals. Leaders are hired to make things happen, and focusing too much on making everyone happy hinders progress.

Q: Is authenticity important in the quest for power?

The speaker challenges the idea of authenticity. Instead of being true to oneself, he suggests that individuals should prioritize being true to what others around them need from them. For example, in the context of entrepreneurship, projecting a positive attitude and confidently addressing setbacks is more likely to inspire employees and retain investors and customers. This does not mean deceptive lying, but rather strategic representation of one's capability to tackle challenges.

Q: How should one approach the reality of an unjust world?

Accepting the world as it is, with all its injustices, is crucial in effecting change. By cultivating intellectual curiosity and developing an interest in understanding how the world works, individuals can rise above their emotions and biases. Adopting a clinical approach and studying human behavior allows one to better influence others and work towards making a difference in the world.


In order to have the power to change lives, organizations, and the world, individuals must cultivate personal qualities such as ambition, confidence, and energy. They should also develop skills such as acting, communication, and persuasion. Persistence and resilience are key in facing setbacks, while understanding others' motivations is essential for effective influence. Prioritizing getting things done over being liked, and being strategic in presenting one's capabilities, can lead to success. Accepting the world as it is and adopting a clinical approach to understanding human behavior is important for influencing others and bringing about meaningful change.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Ambition is essential for success as it drives the motivation and hard work required to achieve goals and acquire power.

  • Acting like a leader and exuding confidence through body language, acting skills, and persuasive communication is important for influencing others.

  • Persistence and resilience are necessary to overcome setbacks and outwork competitors, while high energy is attractive and contagious.

  • Understanding what motivates others and crafting messages accordingly is crucial for effective influence.

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