Rules of influence

Appearances. Their rule is sovereign, and you quarrel with them at your peril. Seeing is believing, and you are the sum of what you seem. In Philadelphia in 1743 the immortal Benjamin Franklin, still a young printer but wise beyond his years, took the trouble to be seen on Market Street every day at noon, pushing a wheelbarrow stacked with reams of blank paper—not because the paper needed to go anywhere, but because Franklin was promoting his reputation for diligence, industry, and thrift. The times have changed but not the principle, which is why you always rent the Ferrari when visiting Los Angeles or run up a $500 phone bill when staying for three days in a New York hotel—to promote the impression that you are very busy, never out of touch with Rupert Murdoch or Michael Eisner. Some of the country’s conservative churches and liberal universities make invidious comparisons between appearances and what they call reality. The distinction is malicious and false, a cruel punishment visit


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