Chancellor and Diplomat for the Republic of Florence, Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) wrote one of the most famous pieces of literature ever made, The Prince (1513). Machiavelli is a real political engineer who tries to show every good prince how to conquer and preserve power.
It is an excellent text that challenges our sense of morality and shows us that by being too virtuous, we expose ourselves to great suffering against people who might not have the same principles as we do. In short, it is the ideal remedy for "nice guys" looking for success.
Despite its age and concepts that may seem outdated for our modern time, The Prince remains nevertheless a reference, a practical manual of power and efficiency.
Here are my favorite quotes from the book:
Choose respect over love
“Any man who tries to be good all the time is bound to come to ruin among the great number who are not good. Hence a prince who wants to keep his authority must learn how not to be good, and use that knowledge, or refrain from using it, as necessity requires.”
Speed is a fundamental factor of power
“The wise man does at once what the fool does eventually. Tardiness often robs us of opportunity and the dispatch of our forces.”
Most people are superficial
“The vulgar crowd always is taken by appearances, and the world consists chiefly of the vulgar.”
Adaptability is paramount in order to be successful
“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.”
Human beings are delusional creatures
“Men will not look at things as they really are, but as they wish them to be - and are ruined”